West Virginia to Move Away From Smarter Balanced

Another state pulls away from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The West Virginia Board of Education last Thursday voted to discontinue its use in the Mountain State. They are also reducing the amount of testing they require.

The West Virginia Department of Education published the following press release:

The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) took several actions regarding statewide testing at its meeting today. The WVBE voted to eliminate English language arts and mathematics statewide assessments in grades 9 and 10. Beginning during the spring 2017 testing window, high school students will only be tested in grade 11. The change puts West Virginia in line with federal requirements to test at least once at the high school level. The WVBE also voted to move away from the Smarter Balanced assessment beginning with the 2017-18 school year and directed the West Virginia Department of Education to explore options to adopt another statewide assessment.

In response to comments received during a 30-day public comment period on assessment policy 2340, the WVBE voted to remove policy language which would have utilized end-of-course exams in selected high school courses. The public overwhelmingly did not support the use of end-of-course exams within comments received.

The WVBE also approved a change in grade levels for the statewide science assessment from grade 4 to 5 in elementary school and grade 6 to 8 in middle school. Mountain State students will now be tested at the end of each programmatic level in science, resulting in a more accurate depiction of how well students master science skills.

“As a board, we are committed to finding the best assessment solution for the students in West Virginia,” said State Board of Education President Tom Campbell. “With that goal in mind, our board will listen to the public and our state’s educators who always have students’ best interest at heart.”

Smarter Balanced is now down to 16 (14 governing, two advisory) states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bureau of Indian Education. Smarter Balanced at one time had 31 states that participated in its consortium.

It is unclear what assessment West Virginia will end up using next school year.

Update: SB 18 was introduced to change the tests to ACT and ACT Aspire. The U.S. Department of Education questioned whether ACT Aspire actually aligned to Alabama’s standards (which is Common Core) so it’s hard to see West Virginia who also implemented Common Core go that route. Another testament to the *flexibility* of the Every Student Succeeds Act.