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Reader voices issues with SBAC

Posted: August 12, 2013 - 7:58am  |  Updated: August 12, 2013 - 8:06am

Please contact the Governor’s Office and your state legislators and ask the State to cancel the agreement with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC). While appearing to be a mere vendor for a test, the consortium is a governance structure that ends state sovereignty over educational issues.

This consortium is expensive. Every school is expected to have a 2:1 computer ratio that operates on a Microsoft 7 platform (not surprising given the Gate’s Foundation role in the development of Alaska’s standards). Andrew Hermeling, the computer guru for SBAC expects all schools to have 1 Gbps per 1,000 students. With 500 school sites in Alaska, and most won’t have the capability. ACS in their 2010 testimony to the FCC noted that the most effective method to provide this service is through satellite backhaul, at $100,000 per site per month. Assuming only 50 sites require backhaul, it would be over $1 Billion in operating costs to deliver this test per year, assuming the computers, tests, training costs, and everything else was donated by some rich benefactor.

Grading costs and a host of other “wrap around” services would also have to be financed by the state and borough governments, which are 70% of the costs of the test in most states. Costs being left for the borough tab to pick up are not cheap, and there will be serious ramifications for borough budgets.

Other states are finding SBAC to be a very expensive proposition. The state of California just appropriated an extra $1 billion to help meet the cost of the test. Michigan defunded it because it was running $300 per student.

Pennsylvania suspended their involvement. Alabama and Utah both found the costs to be a significant drain on the state and they withdrew from SBAC.

Wisconsin’s Watchdog group noted that SBAC was costing the state over $250 per pupil. Vermont, another SBAC state, is also spending $300 per student.

I am not against education funding. Doubling AK DEED’s budget to operate broadband in rural Alaska is not the most effect means of raising the educational standards. Relevant documents can be found at stopalaskacommoncore.com click on documents.

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