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South Carolina Withdrawing From Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium

South Carolina has announced plans to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two consortia developing tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

In an April 3 letter to school districts in the state, Deputy Superintendent Nancy Busbee announced that South Carolina will be leaving Smarter Balanced, and that the move "will allow South Carolina to also consider other assessments that best meet the needs of our state."

Busbee said that the immediate impact will be that districts can now suspend the field-testing of Smarter Balanced assessments taking place in the state. She also indicated that the move will allow the state to get a head start on picking new assessments. (The ACT is one option the state is exploring.)

"Withdrawing from the consortium now, rather than awaiting possible legislative action, will allow the SCDE to begin the process to secure assessments for grade 3-8 and high school (ELA and Math) for the 2014-15 school year," she wrote, referencing deliberations underway in the state legislature to require the state to drop out of Smarter Balanced.

The pending move brings the total number of states not belonging to either Smarter Balanced or PARCC (the other testing consortia designing common-core tests) from 12 to 13. With South Carolina's withdrawal, Smarter Balanced's membership total drops from 23 to 22.

There's been a significant push against the common core itself in South Carolina this year. Senate Bill 300, which would require the state to leave Smarter Balanced, was originally written so that the common core would be repealed in the state, but that requirement was subsequently dropped during the amendment process. Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, has also been an outspoken opponent of the common core, as has outgoing state Superintendent Mick Zais, also a Republican.

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