#DM7 Article: The Smarter Balanced Connections

This is a reposting of my weekly Da Tech Guy column: The Smarter Balanced Connections

By A.P. Dillon

Last week, I wrote about Lamar Alexander’s ‘education’ history.  In that article, I traced Alexander’s involvement with the “New American Schools Development Corporation” and how that company was merged with the  The American Institutes for Research (AIR).

AIR is now producing Common Core tests for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  The other outfit producing Common Core tests is The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).  PARCC is run by publishing behemoth Pearson.

Both sets of test have come under fire with states pulling out of the SBAC, parents opting their kids out of the tests and, most recently, students walking out of the PARCC tests in New Mexico.  The tests are reported to be poorly written in some cases and there have been concerns over data collected by these tests and the privacy of that data.

Just yesterday, a judge in Missouri ruled that the SBAC fees in Missouri were unconstitutional. Missouri Education Watchdog reported:

Judge Green of the circuit court of Cole County has just granted summary judgment in our favor on our claim that Missouri’s membership fees to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia are unlawful under the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as “state and federal law.”

Judge Green has permanently enjoined the State of Missouri from making payments in the form of membership fees to Smarter Balanced. We can no longer be a member of SBAC.

Quoting directly from the judgement, which found the SBAC participation by Missouri to be in violation of the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution and “unlawful under state and federal law”.

The judgement mentions the SBAC thusly, “the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a.k.a. Smarter Balanced, Smarter Balanced at UCLA“.  It is worth mentioning that North Carolina is a member of the SBAC and at some point between October 2014 and January 2015, North Carolina’s status at the SBAC went from Governing State to Affiliate State.

Upon inquiring with the SBAC, I was informed this change happened because North Carolina refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UCLA. However, according to a statement from North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction, the status change occurred because the state did not administer the full SBAC test in spring of 2014.

Let’s return to Lamar Alexander, who is the sponsor of S. 227Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA).  This bill seeks to actually increase data collection of children, including psychological profiling.  To be clear, this bill is dangerous.

SETRA depends on FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) to protect student data privacy. FERPA was gutted by the U.S. Department of Education and Arne Duncan in 2011 in order to let data under Common Core and the associated tests to flow freely.  That same year SBAC scored big with the the U.S. Department of Education.

When states took Race To The Top Funds and agreed to adopt Common Core, they were also required the construction of State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). Under SETRA, these SLDS’s will now get even more student data.

Who benefits? Arguably education profiteers have the most to gain. Without the data, outfits like SBAC and PARCC cease to function. Perhaps Senator Alexander can comment on the bill that benefits “public and private entities,” of which his past ‘education history’ is entwined with?

Also of note is H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, which is being rushed through and promoted by Congressional representatives as the opposite of what it really is.  This bill marginalizes parental rights and local decision-making.

SETRA also claims to protect states from federal coercion related to Common Core. Pay attention to the language, the bill prevents future federal coercion. SETRA does nothing to stop the current situation.

These two bills combined represent a failure to listen and a failure to learn from the mistakes of the past. In a nutshell: Education officials and Congress still haven’t figured out our kids and their education are not data sets to be bought and sold.

The public needs to contact their Senators and their Representatives.  Now.

AP DillonA.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder ofLadyLiberty1885.com.
Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review, StopCommonCoreNC.org, WatchdogWireNC and WizBang. 


About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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4 Responses to #DM7 Article: The Smarter Balanced Connections

  1. brackenkaren says:

    One correction in your article. The states agreed to SLDS and Common Core in 2009 when they took State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. They promised to support the same 4 assurances in SFSF and in RTTT. But the commitment came in 2009 when all the states took SFSF money. If you look at the RTTT application one of the requirements for filing for RTTT was that you had to have applied for SFSF. So our Governors committed to Common Core before RTTT. SFSF was the promise and RTTT layed out the states plan for implementing their promise. There are NO states that are not implementing CC or CC aligned standards and that includes states like TX and VA.


    • I don’t know that that’s a correction but rather a closer examination of the money.
      SFSF = ARRA. RTTT was funded by remaining ARRA dollars. See: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund.html

      SLDS’s were introduced in 2002 or there abouts. Not all states had them or built them. Over time, various carrots were dangled to get states to do it. SFSF (ARRA) was a carrot.
      You are correct that in 2009, that the SFSF came along and also required SLDS’s. SFSF is part of ARRA ( better known as the Stimulus).

      RTTT grants required Common Core – or rather “career and college ready” standards. At the time, Common Core was the only one floating that label. RTTT’s money also came from ARRA.
      The requirement in RTTT for an SLDS was specific if you took the money, you had to build an SLDS which would interface in some way with the NEDM (Natl Ed Data Model).

      This article over at Truth In American Ed by Jane Robbins in 2014 has a good snapshot of SFSF & the SLDS issues.

      3 states did not adopt common core and still have not. Whether they have some common core like curricula is not surprising, since everything is being aligned from computer apps to texts, tests to workbooks.


      • brackenkaren says:

        My only point was that many people think their Governor agreed to Common Core when they applied for RTTT. I just wanted to clarify that our Governor’s agreed to the standards under their SFSF application not RTTT. RTTT was just the details of how they were now going to make good on the promises made in SFSF. The RTTT application states in order to apply for RTTT you had to have applied for SFSF. Your stuff is great and I LOVE every blog I get from you so I was not being critical of your work so I hope I didn’t come off that way.


  2. Father Paul Lemmen says:

    Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.


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