By Mila Wood
In response to Tom Luna’s release of his SBAC promotion video and “text evidence:”
All along my main concerns as a parent and a tax paying citizen of our state with the
SBAC test have been;
1) invasive data collection
2) the test is UNtested, UNproven and UNfinished
3) the kids’ test results will be tied to teacher evaluations ( up to 50%) and will, therefore, logically
encourage more teaching to the test.
4) no tangible cost analysis for Idaho
5) this test will have bubble answers as well as a portion of written essay type
answers, using TEXT EVIDENCE. ( but who’s text?)
I would quickly like to address #4 #5 in combination. Earlier this week I attended a breakfast
meeting where Tom Luna spoke about the written portion of the SBAC test. When the
questions came from a person in the crowd, “What about cost? Is it more?,” Mr. Luna told us the
costs would be similar to what we pay now for the ISAT (that was rather vague, since that test
is all bubble answers with NO written portion that needs hand grading.) He said that TWO, yes TWO,
teachers would grade EVERY written portion, and that if they did not agree on the grade, then a
THIRD teacher would be brought in to decide the grade. Now, I admittedly am no math whiz, but I
do carry a little common sense around in my back pocket just for instances like these.
It really makes NO sense whatsoever that a test that was graded solely by a
computer is now going to cost taxpayers a “similar” amount as a written, hand graded,
subjective written test with the potential for THREE separate teachers, paid by the hour
(I am assuming) will cost to grade. I would ask again, for about the hundredth time…
Mr Luna, tear down that privacy wall at the DOE—show us the cost analysis!!!!
PLEASE PROVE ME WRONG!
While you are at it, please disclose the certification level for the teachers who will be
grading my son’s test. Do they need a full teaching degree or just a Teach For America certification? Do they
live here in the state of Idaho? Are the tests going out of state? Are they even staying in the country? How
much will it cost taxpayers to train these test graders? How long will that take? Who is training them?
How much are they making per test? Or will they be paid by the hour?
In reference to your “I hope the adults in the room can look at change in a positive light
and help promote the SBAC” or something similar….Mr. Luna , if there EVER were an
ADULT in any of the rooms in which you claim to have been in, these critical questions
would have been asked, and answered. The decisons may have had different
outcomes as most adults would have realized that part of their obligation to
taxpayers, kids, and education funds would have been to make a rational, fiscally
responsible decision. Instead we got a reckless one. ( I can only assume it’s a reckless amount, as you
have hidden the cost analysis somewhere deep in a dark drawer, in a room where you
have thrown away the key) Mr. Luna, please PROVE ME WRONG!
The second point, specifically at #5, is this; If the SBAC test is asking kids to pull TEXT EVIDENCE
out of what they read and ONLY use that in their written response, then what happens
if the text itself is something the kid (or his parents) finds objectionable? Let me give you an actual
example of a question my senior got this year in ELA.
My son was handed a packet called “Deliberating In The Democracies Of The Americas”
and although even the title was confusing, I did manage to read the entire pack. It was
basically many articles about bullying, online harassment, sexting, and school
bullying. There were NO passages about the moral breakdown of society, lack of
personal responsibility, nothing about the 10 commandments or how to treat your fellow man—just
here is the issue, it is at epidemic proportions and the GOVERNMENT needs to step
in to solve it. My son’s final question to be answered was this;
“Give three reasons that the government should authorize schools to limit the free
speech of students off campus.”
Needless to say, this assignment got a hand-written response from mom and the
definitions of both Democracy and Republic with a copy of the First Amendment. OUR
answer was, “There is NO reason EVER, for the government to limit free speech.”
If this were a test passage, would my son be marked as “not proficient?” Would the
computer let him move on? Since it’s Computer Adaptive Testing, the student must fill
it in to proceed. So, if the passages are leading the kids to answer based on TEXT
EVIDENCE, my son would probably not do well because there was NO evidence referencing
the First Amendment, free speech, or personal responsibility. While some of you may
bristle at my obviously patriotic, conservative, libertarian response—-what if the
passage were the opposite and forced your child to answer only in agreement with
my views? What if you are an Occupy Wall Street fan? Would you be offended that your child was
forced to conform to someone else’s thought process, and then marked wrong for not doing
The only way parents will know about what has been asked of kids on these test, is
after they have taken them…so if there is any objectionable material it’s TOO late to protest, the
damage is done. Idaho has no real say in what is on the SBAC, we (Luna/Otter) signed our
rights away to Washington State (the lead state for the 23-state SBAC). “We get what we get
and we won’t throw a fit…” I’m not actually sure the kids will even be able to discuss the
test material afterwords as they will have to sign a waiver before testing begins. I would suggest that parents
start by reading the TEXT EVIDENCE against this costly consumer product experiment, before it is fully
functioning in 2104-2105.