Idaho’s State Board of Education this afternoon voted 5-1 to amend its $22 million contract with a private testing contractor to eliminate funding for 9th grade ISAT tests, and voted unanimously to waive its rule requiring ISAT testing for 9th graders for this spring only. If the board hasn’t come up with a new plan before next fall, it’d have to waive the rule again to cancel the fall 9th grade ISAT, for which there would be no funding in the contract.
State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna was the lone dissenter in the 5-1 vote, because he didn’t want to eliminate the funding for the life of the contract, which runs for four years with two possible two-year extensions. He preferred to cut it just for this year, and leave funding for future years in the contract. “I understand the predicament the board’s in,” Luna said. But, he said, “The 9th grade test is a critical test given the year before we expect students to pass a graduation test.”
Board President Milford Terrell said, “I want a balanced budget. I don’t want to be in this situation ever again.” The board may come up with a different approach after further study by a subcommittee that’s re-examining testing, he said, such as bringing back 9th grade testing but eliminating fall tests for all grades as a cost trade-off. But, Terrell declared, “There can be no extra money. … We have a closed budget at this point.”
After the board’s special meeting, he told reporters, “This president will sure take a strong look at where we’re at before we ever sign contracts, I’ll tell you that.”