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Utah To Downgrade Its Commitment to Use Common Tests

You might have heard that Utah has been surfing the waves of common-standards controversy lately. Now it appears that the standards aren't the only thing the state is uneasy about. It's also uneasy about the tests being designed for them.

We are getting word that Utah plans to downgrade its membership in one of the assessment consortia from "governing" to "advisory." Governing states have voting power on key policy and design questions. They also are committed to using the tests when they are ready in 2014-15. Advisory states can sit in on discussions, but have no voting power and do not have to promise to use the tests.

Officials at the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium tell us that Utah has indicated that it will submit a request to move from governing to advisory status in that group. It does not belong to the other assessment group, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Upon getting the news, SMARTER Balanced Executive Director Joe Willhoft issued a statement, on behalf of its executive committee, saying that the group is grateful for Utah's contributions to the development of the testing system. Judy W. Park, Utah's associate superintendent for federal programs and student services, has served as co-chair of the executive committee.

Willhoft noted that Utah's change in status is "consistent with the consortium's state-led governance policy, which brings states together on a voluntary basis" to build the tests.

Colorado, too, has been struggling with its own internal conflicts about the assessments. As we told you recently, its state board voted to resist state lawmakers' pressure to become a governing state in one of the consortia.

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