Is the SBAC Illegal to Administer in Idaho?

Filed in Uncategorized by on February 17, 2015 4 Comments

I had to issue some corrections to this post.  They can be found here.   However, the same premise still exists, Idaho is using this test in a manner that is contrary to how it should be used.  The assessment is still not Valid nor Reliable.


A lot has been said about a parent’s right to not have their child take the SBAC or ISAT 2.o assessments.  IDAPA (Idaho’s Rules for Thoroughness) is always cited as the foundational reason school administrators give parents for denying their parental request.  There is no “opt out” option written in these rules.

These rules are interpreted to have the force of law.  So, according to this same document the SBAC is illegal to administer in Idaho!

According to Idaho Rules Governing Thoroughness page 24,

(Emphasis mine)


With that in mind I contacted the Idaho Department of Ed to ask what information they had regarding the reliability and validity of the SBAC.  They quickly sent me back the Memo_Validity_Overview_2014-09-11

Test reliability will initially be modeled through simulations using the item pool after item review, which is due to be completed December 31, 2014. Operational test reliability will be reported in the technical manual following the first operational administration in spring 2015.
 Because this type of evidence continues to be gathered through the operational administration of the assessments, this table mostly reflects future plans for external validity research.
In other words, “We haven’t validated the assessment yet but we plan on doing it in the future.”
Their response reminded me of something Common Core State Standards validation committee member, Sandra Stotsky, emailed me:

In addition to what Ze’ev says, each state must demand more than a validation of a “process.”  It must have a review of all high-stakes test items by qualified academic experts.   You must go beyond testing experts.  You want content experts.  Otherwise, the whole deal should be dead on arrival.  How can Idaho accept test items developed in secrecy, vetted in secrecy, and used in secrecy?

What is needed is not the establishment of the validity of a process, but the validity of the test items themselves.   Do they assess at each grade level (and especially in high school) what the standards call for and what is to be taught to students at each grade level.  Don’t let them tell you that the “process” takes care of it.  It doesn’t.  There are testing experts (psychometricians) and content experts (academic experts).  And you especially need the second group–and from your own higher ed institutions since that is where these “college-ready” students are going, for the most part.


I then followed up with the Idaho Department of Education and asked them this question:
As I read through this document you shared with me… it looks as if there have been no external validity measures taken.  Are we administering a assessment [that has no evidence of] validity [and] hasn’t been proven by external measures?
In reply they sent me these three documents:

These documents discuss the validity of the process used to set the cut scores, but they have nothing to do with the validity of the assessment itself.  There is no evidence that this assessment is valid.

When you, as a parent, go in to refuse the assessment and you’re told you don’t have that option just let them know that your child will not be subject to taking a assessment that has not been proven valid.  It’s illegal.

No way, no how!