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SBAC no longer mandatory in Idaho schools
February 22, 2017
By Idaho Representative Ronald Nate
Madison County

Sometimes a bill doesn't need to pass in order to have an impact. Merely bringing the issue forward causes key decision makers to reconsider current practices, explore alternatives, and respond to citizen input. The bill to repeal the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test is a perfect example.

Because of parents' feedback and legislative pressure, the rules for K-12 education were changed this year. The SBAC test (tied to Common Core) is no longer a graduation requirement for Idaho public school students.

Parents may opt their kids out of SBAC testing and not have to worry about it affecting their graduation plans. This is huge for those who have researched the SBAC test, or standardized testing in general, and have concerns about how children are affected by them.

Parents no longer have to face the difficult choice of having their children take a test they see to be flawed and harmful, versus opting out and being threatened with delayed or denied graduation. The requirement is gone.

But where is the bill?

For the third year now, we have seen a bill to repeal the SBAC test stalled in a committee. The bill does not forbid SBAC tests, instead it removes the requirement for all Idaho school districts to administer the long, expensive, and stressful test to their students. School districts liking the SBAC test would still use it, but others could opt for a less-expensive and preferable test for their students.

Even though the bill is stalled yet again, its impact is real because of the rescinded SBAC testing graduation requirement. Please help me spread the word about SBAC testing being optional.

Parents and children need to know they can opt out, and that districts should not apply pressure or impose penalties or consequences for students not taking the test.

In the meantime, I will keep working to get the bill heard and debated in the House Education Committee. Many parents, students, teachers, and districts are asking for action, and I will do my best to help get their voices fully heard in the capitol.
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