No Validity or Reliability = No Assessment!

Filed in Uncategorized by on April 17, 2015 1 Comment

Parents across the state are being told that they have no ability to refuse the SBAC (ISAT 2.0) assessment for their child.  School districts and the State Dept. of Education persistently point out that, as a state, we are required to test 95% of the student population per No Child Left Behind and our No Child Left Behind Waiver.

However, there is a requirement in those agreements that is consistently overlooked:  that the assessment administered must be valid and reliable.  This is the one point that school officials cannot effectively argue against, whether your child attends a traditional public school or a charter school of any kind.  (I realize this could be huge for charter school parents who are in a more tenuous position regarding their child’s enrollment.)

Documents from No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top Assessment (that lovely little grant program that helped set up the SBAC) all require a test that is valid and reliable.  Attached is a list of those documents, with links and excerpts from the documents that display the valid and reliable requirement.  Print it out to hand to your school when handing in your refusal form.

Assessments are tied to the standards. The Race to the Top Assessment Grant awarded to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium required the development of a valid and reliable assessment.  NCLB requires states to administer valid and reliable assessments.  Ironically, no proof or evidence of SBAC’s validity and reliability exists.   By using the SBAC or PARCC, states are not in compliance with federal law.  Important decisions will be made based on the results of an assessment that has not been proven to be valid and reliable.  Idaho will not allow students to graduate, and teacher evaluations will be based on the results of assessments that are not valid and reliable.

When asked about the lack of validity and reliability our State Department of Education gave me this response,

Regardless of what SBAC is or is not that is what we agreed to. It is the intent of the Superintendent that we amend the flexibility document to provide flexibility for Idahoans to once again make choices. We can only do that going forward and for that reason our energy is focused on what we can do prospectively and proactively and not those elements in arrears. Among those prospective alternatives is alternate day/grade testing and alternate tests.”

The SDE’s feet should be held to the fire for irresponsibly entering into agreements to use an assessment that is not valid and reliable.  Granted, this new administration didn’t originally enter into those agreements, but they have doubled down on complying with them.  Statements like the above are meant to brush  off concerns, but they do not excuse the poor decision-making that got us here in the first place.   It doesn’t matter to them that states, districts and parents were promised a valid and reliable assessment and that has not been delivered.  It seems the SDE can determine which laws it chooses to follow arbitrarily without giving parents similar freedom to follow federal requirements for the benefit of their children.

So, when parents get letters from their school districts like those below, the laws referred to in the letters require assessments that are valid and reliable for their purpose.

No state or district can force parents to make their child participate in a test for Title 1 money that does not meet NCLB requirements.  The state should have figured that out before beginning its bullying campaign this spring.

(Mary Byrne)

Melba

Emmett

ISAT Parent Request Letter 2015 first response

 

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(Click to enlarge.)

Every school in Idaho is required to use a valid and reliable assessment.  The SBAC is neither.  So, even charter schools have no legs to stand on.

 

Refuse this invalid and unreliable test.  Here’s a new refusal form to help you do just that.

Valid and Reliable refusal

 

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  1. When asked about the lack of validity and reliability our State Department of Education gave me this response, “Regardless of what SBAC is or is not that is what we agreed to. It is the intent of the Superintendent that we amend the flexibility document to provide flexibility for Idahoans to once again make choices. We can only do that going forward and for that reason our energy is focused on what we can do prospectively and proactively and not those elements in arrears. Among those prospective alternatives is alternate day/grade testing and alternate tests.”

    The SDE’s feet should be held to the fire for irresponsibly entering into agreements to use an assessment that is not valid and reliable.

    COMMENT: I’m hoping that the state department leadership and assessment staff realize that the “prospective alternatives” to the state test must also meet the same testing standards and practices that NCLB placed on the state test. If determination of the SBAC’s validity and reliability must be published before its first operational use, how can the state dare to use any of the “prospective alternatives” operationally before its validity and reliability is published?

    On the other hand, it’s noteworthy that the reliability and validity data for the NWEA ISAT and for the DRC ISAT were not published before their first operational use. Has the state been violating NCLB adopted testing standards and practices since 2002? No.

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