Boise School District
A Message from the Superintendent

Dear Boise School District Parent/Guardian:


Beginning this week, students in the Boise School District will be taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessment for the first time, in a "field test" of the assessment. We want to provide you with some information about the field test, and what we've been doing to make it more manageable for our students.


Federal and State Requirements

It's important to understand what is required through the No Child Left Behind law at the federal level. Students must take assessments that are aligned with the new Common Core standards at grades 3-8 and once in high school. The law does not mandate which test is to be administered, or the length of the test.


What is the New Assessment?

Idaho is part of a 23-state consortium called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which has developed a test that is to be piloted in 2014, and fully administered beginning in 2015. Although it is not required, the state of Idaho initially mandated that the SBAC field test would be administered to all students at grades 3-11 across the state of Idaho. Estimates for time required to take the test are:

  • 7 hours for students in grades 3-5
  • 7.5 hours for students in grades 6-8
  • 8.5 hours for students in grades 9-11

Negotiations for Local Control

Given the extensive costs in both time and resources, we contacted the Idaho State Department of Education last October and voiced our concerns about the implementation of the test. In November, Superintendents of the nine Southern Idaho Conference districts (Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Mt. Home, Middleton, Emmett, Caldwell, Vallivue, and Kuna) wrote a white paper suggesting a three-part alternative path for assessment: 

  1. Use the SAT (already administered to all juniors in Idaho) at grade 11.
  2. Drop the 9th and 10th grade tests altogether.
  3. Give the Measures of Academic Progress, a shorter test aligned with the new standards, at grades 3-8.

In late December, Superintendent Luna called a meeting with the SIC Superintendents to discuss our concerns about SBAC testing. In January, 9th and 10th grade testing was made optional for the field test. We decided to opt our 9th and 10th graders out of the field test, but still had concerns about the length of the field test at the other grades.


Compromises for the SBAC Field Test

In the week prior to Spring Break, we were informed that students could take a portion of the field test in order to experience the assessment. Given this information, we elected to administer only 45 minutes of each of the four subtests of the SBAC, or approximately 3 hours total. This process will meet the requirements of the field test-providing for us and for the state an accurate evaluation of the implementation requirements-without subjecting our students to 7 - 8.5 hours of testing or diverting attention and resources away from more useful assessments such as end-of-course, SAT and AP exams.


Concerns for 2015

We believe the process of the past 6 months has provided relief for our students, teachers, and administrators during the field test. However, we have serious concerns about the 2015 full administration of the SBAC, in which students in grades 3-11 will be required to take the 7 - 8.5 hour SBAC. We will continue to press these issues in the coming year and will keep you updated throughout the process.




Dr. Don Coberly  


Boise School District  


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