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Delaware Chooses SAT Over Smarter Balanced for High School Tests

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There goes another one.

Delaware announced today that instead of giving the Smarter Balanced assessment in grades 3-8 and 11 as it did last year, it will administer the test only in grades 3-8, and use the SAT in high school in 2015-16.

Delaware is just the latest in a crop of states that have jilted PARCC or Smarter Balanced for college-entrance exams recently. In the last few weeks, we've reported to you that Colorado ditched PARCC for the SAT, and Montana dropped Smarter Balanced for the ACT.

There's been additional action in the market-share battle between ACT and the College Board, too, as some states, such as Illinois, switch longstanding contracts with one to go with the other. It's starting to sound a bit like the early "dating" days of the federally funded PARCC and Smarter Balanced consortia, when states belonged to both to see how things shaped up, then eventually chose long-term partners (or, as I liked to say back then, became monogamous).

Today's announcement from Delaware falls into one specific category: the one that sees states ditching PARCC or Smarter Balanced for a college-entrance exam. There are some serious questions that come along with that choice, as I explore in a story this week on edweek.org. As more states make this switch—invited by language in the new Every Student Succeeds Act—those questions hover over a bigger and bigger swath of the country. Check it out.

In making their announcement, Delaware officials echoed factors that others states have cited too, such as the time-saving aspect of making a college-entrance exam do double-duty as the test for federal accountability. The U.S. Department of Education noted in its press release that Delaware juniors were already taking the SAT on the state's dime anyway.

Additionally, state Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said, the newly redesigned SAT will be a good measure of whether students are ready for college.

"Our students deserve an exam that helps them gauge their college and career readiness, and our teachers deserve an exam that provides them with the information they need to guide their instruction. This is one example of how we are reducing the testing burden on our students and teachers," he said in a prepared statement. "This is a smart solution that ensures our educators, students, and families get the information they need while mitigating the overtesting concern many share."

The decision also obliges the wishes of state lawmakers, who had been pressing Gov. Jack Markell to replace Smarter Balanced with the SAT at 11th grade. The state began reexamining its assessment regimen last year, when the legislature passed a joint resolution calling for a test inventory.


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