On September 12th of last year, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler notified the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that North Dakota would be withdrawing from the SBAC effective June 30, 2017. This decision meant that the state would have an open bidding process to determine who would provide state assessments for grades 3-8 in Math and English going forward.
The SBAC assessments are actually aligned with the controversial Common Core State Standards. And while Baesler and her minions in the Legislature have paraded around the state trying to convince people that Common Core no longer exists in North Dakota, that claim is absolutely false. Do a side by side comparison of the "new" standards to the Common Core State Standards and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
In fact, it’s almost amusing that Baesler has the audacity to suggest that Common Core is gone. After all, Baesler and North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta fought against Rep. Ben Koppelman’s (R – District 16) bill this last legislative session to eliminate the Common Core State Standards.
Why did they fight against their elimination if they were already being eliminated through a "re-write" process anyhow? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out the deception on the part of Baesler and Archuleta.
Nevertheless, with the claim that so-called "new" North Dakota standards would be in place, Baesler had little choice but to write the letter of withdrawal to the SBAC. But here’s the kicker… according to the Forum, the SBAC is still permitted to be part of the bidding process to provide the state’s assessments.
I checked with Robert Bauer in the Department of Public Instruction’s Assessment Office this morning. He confirmed for me that:
"The [Request for Proposal] for a new assessment system was issued on May 1st, 2017. Bidders must submit their proposals by June 14, 2017. We anticipate selecting a vendor and executing a contract sometime this summer so that we are prepared to administer our new assessment system by spring 2018."
An anonymous source told me recently that the Department of Public Instruction is hopeful that the SBAC does not come out on top in the bidding process. It’s not a mystery to me why.
Think of it. Despite all the claims to the contrary, North Dakota still has the Common Core State Standards. Wouldn’t that be something if after Baesler’s letter of "withdrawal" we again ended up with the SBAC as the vendor for the Math and English assessments?
For now, we’ll wait. But some time this summer we will find out if the "new assessment system" is as "new" as the standards we now have. It may just be that we’ll have nothing new at all. Just more of the same… deception and all?