Parents at at least one elementary school in our district received an email from their Parent-Teacher Organization today designed to encourage them to advocate for the district’s legislative priorities. “This email contains legislative advocacy information to help you stay up to date with what is happening in Des Moines,” it said. “Superintendent Murley requested that this information be shared.”
The packet contained, among other things, two documents summarizing the state task force’s recommendation that the state adopt the very expensive Smarter Balanced standardized tests. Neither document makes any reference to the dissent that accompanied the task force’s report and that raised serious concerns about the substantial and unquantified tech-readiness costs of adopting those tests. It also omitted this memo, written by our own David Dude for the Urban Education Network of Iowa, raising serious questions about tech readiness and cost. Finally, the packet included a statement about assessments, issued by the Iowa Association of School Boards, that sounds like it could have been cut and pasted from a standardized testing industry press release.
The district included all of those materials in the advocacy packet without comment on whether it wants people to support or oppose the new tests. Omitting any information about the dissenting opinion and any contrary views, though, could certainly come across as an endorsement. What are parents supposed to make of this information?
We have no idea whether the ICCSD has adequate technology to administer these tests. Judging from Dude’s memo, there’s a very good chance that it doesn’t and that the technology costs alone (not to mention the cost of the tests themselves) will be, in the dissent’s words, “significant and ongoing.” The Governor’s school funding proposal isn’t even enough to maintain our current level of spending. Where will the money for these tests come from? Where will it come from the next year, and the year after that? What is our district going to cut to pay for these tests?
It’s at moments like this when I wonder who our administrators work for.