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Feds a “partner” in SBAC tests

Yesterday, I spoke with a Senate aide regarding Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) to go with the Common Core standards.   He challenged my assertion that the federal government is developing the tests with SBAC and not just funding them.   I referred him to the technical review announced by the Federal Department of Education last March.  From the Federal DoEd website,

“…the Technical Review will help the Department support their work by analyzing their progress meeting the requirements laid out in the Race to the Top Assessment program and identifying how we can better partner with the consortia during this critical development phase.”

The federal government is funding and “partnering” in the “critical” development phase.  Exactly what I tried to explain in my phone call to the senate staffer.  This is NOT semantics but a legitimate concern.  The federal government claims to be a partner with SBAC putting them in direct conflict with HCR 11 which finds no constitutional role for the federal government and also resolves to keep the feds out of student-level data.

This is not just a conflict with the HCR 11, the resolution currently being considered in the senate  but this could be a clear violation of General Education Provisions Act  which says,

“No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“

and in another section of the law says,

“….no funds provided to the Dept. of Ed. Or to an applicable program may be used to pilot test, field test, implement, administer or distribute in any way any federally sponsored national test in reading, mathematics, or any other subject that is not specifically and explicitly provided for in authorizing legislation enacted into law.”

The SBAC consortia is partnering with the federal government during the critical development phase where “pilot testing” is being done in Michigan and several other states. 

HCR 11 is insufficient to address the serious conflicts our participation in SBAC brings to our state.  Michigan must remove itself from SBAC and retain control of our standards, curriculum, and tests.  What is tested is what is taught.  What is taught is what is thought.  We should not be in a consortia that “partners” with the federal government.  As we all know, the federal government eventually becomes the authority in any partnership.

Governor Snyder said that the federally government is “highly involved” and that can be “challenging.”

Please call and forward this to your state senator and let him know you want the federal government out of Michigan because it is unconstitutional and in conflict with the General Education Provisions Act.  Right now, (Oct. 8) the resolution is still in the Government Operations Committee.  Call them today.

Randy Richardville (R) Committee Chair, 17th District (517) 373-3543
Dave Hildenbrand (R) Majority Vice Chair, 29th District (517) 373-1801 or toll free at (866) 305-2129
Arlan B Meekhof (R) 30th District (517) 373-6920
Gretchen Whitmer (D) Minority Vice Chair, 23rd District (517)-373-1734
Tupac A Hunter (D) 5th District (517) 373-0994 or 866-262-7305