In 2001, amid plenty of controversy, the U.S. Congress passed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. This law placed impossible demands on states, such as requiring 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2014.
As 2014 began to approach, everyone knew this “goal” was impossible, so in September 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) announced that states could seek “flexibility waivers” for the requirements they must meet under NCLB. The states had to meet certain new requirements set by the USDOE, including adoption and implementation of “college- and career-ready” standards and assessments: a.k.a. Common Core.
In November 2012, the Utah State School Board announced it had accepted a bid to build Utah’s new assessment system from the American Institutes for Research (A.I.R.), a behavioral research company based in Washington, D.C.
Curiously enough, that same company had one of its vice-presidents serving as a reviewer of NCLB waivers. A.I.R. vice-president Sabrina Laine was appointed in November 2011 to review applications from the states for No Child Left Behind waivers. AIR is the official partner of SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) who was one of two federally funded testing consortiums. So one of the two organizations writing federally funded Common Core-aligned tests gets to help decide whether waiver applications are acceptable? Something’s not right here.