The S.C. Department of Education announced Thursday it is taking steps to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and will be considering other assessments to use for the 2014-15 school year, according to a memo sent from Deputy Superintendent Nancy Busbee to the state’s school districts Thursday afternoon.
Smarter Balanced is one of the consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education to develop assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which South Carolina adopted in 2010.
The standards affect students in grades three through 12 for English language arts and mathematics, and are to be fully implemented in the fall. Officials now must decide what assessment will replace the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards next year.
Students at 29 schools in Horry County were scheduled to field test the new assessment at different times this spring, in addition to taking the PASS. Four of the schools were chosen to participate, while 25 schools volunteered.
“It’s basically cease and desist,” said Teal Harding, Horry County Schools spokeswoman. “We already had started [field] testing, but now we have stopped.”
Other states have been looking for assessments other than Smarter Balanced, Busbee said, and this move will “allow South Carolina to also consider other assessments that best meet the needs of our state.”
She also referenced proposals that are in the legislature that would prevent the use of Smarter Balanced, and said the withdrawal will allow the department to move forward without waiting for legislative action.
“Withdrawing from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium generates a multitude of questions, which will be answered as soon as possible,” Busbee said.