Idaho’s state Board of Education, meeting Wednesday in Lewiston, voted unanimously to take two steps back in the implementing of new standardized tests for students, at the urging of state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra. The board’s votes mean 9th graders won’t be required to take the Idaho Standards Achievement Test this spring, though districts have the option of administering the test; and this year’s 10th graders, though they’ll take the test, won’t have passage as a high school graduation requirement. It marks the third year the state has waived the 9th grade testing requirement and the second year that it’s put off making the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test a graduation requirement for 10th graders, who this year are the Class of 2018.
“It was clear that we needed to take a step back and provide some relief for local school districts,” Ybarra said after the vote. “I support the minimum testing requirements,” which require testing in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But, she said, “It is too soon to make the new summative assessment a high-stakes assessment for students in 10th grade. We also wanted to provide the 9th grade assessment as an option to school districts throughout the state and allow their local leadership the flexibility to exercise local control in the best interest of our students.”
State board members said the test is new enough that it makes sense to wait another year before making it a graduation requirement. Tenth graders still will be required to take test this spring, which is aligned to Idaho’s version of Common Core standards in English and math.
Don Soltman, state board president, said, “It is very important to the Board that we have a test for accountability purposes that provides an accurate assessment of how well our students are learning in Idaho. The Board will continue to review our state’s requirements regarding the ISAT and student performance in our future meetings.”
Current state requirements call for both 9th and 10th graders to be tested, and for 10th graders to pass the test before they graduate from high school; that’s what the board waived.