COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s top education leader announced on Monday that the Palmetto State is pulling out of the Common Core standardized testing group, Smarter Balanced.
Superintendent of Education Mick Zais sent a letter to state Board of Education members informing them of the move – after he learned he had the unilateral authority to do make it, PostAndCourier.com reports.
Zais was spurred to action by bills in the state legislature that, among other things, would prevent South Carolina from using the Smarter Balanced tests in schools.
“My recommendation was to get ahead of these actions of the General Assembly and show the members of the General Assembly that we believe exploring assessment options is the most prudent course of action for South Carolina,” Zais wrote in the letter.
The state was expected to begin using the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced tests during the 2014-15 school year. South Carolina students will still be tested on the new, nationalized math and English learning standards next year, but they may be given a re-worked version of the current state test or an alternative Common Core-aligned assessment, such as the ACT Aspire test, reports BeaufortGazette.com.
Zais said he’s “not wed” to a particular test and would like the state to consider all available options.
Zais’ decision to remove South Carolina from the Smarter Balanced testing consortium is a modest victory for Common Core opponents, and worth noting for a couple of reasons.
First, it shows that lawmakers are responding to their constituents’ concerns that the K-12 experiment will erode the longstanding American principle of locally controlled schools. South Carolina legislators reportedly view the ban of the Smarter Balanced test – which, like the PARCC test, is being produced with federal funding and oversight – as a compromise to dropping the national learning standards altogether.
South Carolinians who oppose Common Core should view Zais’ decision and the pending legislation as proof that the political winds are at their back. This minor victory should inspire them to keep pressing ahead.
This development is also significant because it marks the third state (Utah and Florida being the other two, as best we can tell) to cancel the use of an official, Common Core-aligned standardized test.
When state leaders take an action that makes their education system unique – and chips away at the “commonality” among Common Core states – it frustrates the plans of the busybodies and control freaks who are attempting to create a nationalized K-12 education system.
If states use a variety of standardized tests, for instance, it will deprive Common Core supporters of the apples-to-apples student data they need for their master plan of personalized learning technology and data-driven policies to work.
South Carolina’s decision to quit Smarter Balanced might not seem earth-shattering to most observers, but we suspect it’s causing a fair amount of heartburn for Jeb Bush, Bill Gates and the various other Common Core enthusiasts who are seeing their grand experiment splinter apart, bit by bit.