North Dakota Common Core Critics Sue State Over SBAC


A lawsuit has been filed in North Dakota by opponents of Common Core against the state, concerning what they believe to be “unconstitutional” implementation of the standards.

According to the lawsuit, a number of top officials in the state, including Governor Jack Dalrymple and state Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, played a role in an illegal agreement with other states that was in violation of several federal laws.

The plaintiffs in the case would like to see an end to public payments made to the multistate Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, as well as an end to the state’s membership.

There are currently more than one dozen states in the Smarter Balanced consortium, including North Dakota.

North Dakota is currently a governing member of SBAC, splitting $360 million with other multistate consortia given to them by the US Department of Federal Education to create K-12 tests aligned with the Common Core standards to be taken by students across the country.

The lawsuit states that the membership in the consortium is not only unconstitutional, but it also violates laws concerning federal support of school curriculum as well as state control over education.

“From its inception, Common Core was intended to replace ‘the existing patchwork of state standards’ with a uniform, nationalized set of standards and assessments, which would not vary from state to state,” the lawsuit states.

Many parents have come forward to express their opinion to the state Legislature that the state should not be involved in the consortium, and that parents across North Dakota e should opt their children out of the standardized exams.  Critics of Common Core agree, saying the testing is an overreach by the federal government.  Other concerns include the potential problems of mining student data.

In addition, public spending on testing is challenged within the lawsuit, as is the possibility of tax increases that may come about by North Dakota’s continued membership in the consortium.  The lawsuit continues to say that “membership fee payments of over half a million dollars per year equate to participation in and funding of an illegal entity.”

The new standardized tests were implemented in a number of states this year in order to determine student abilities in meeting the Common Core math and English standards.

The lawsuit comes as Baesler put together a task force to determine the future of standardized testing in the state.  The committee is expected to make a decision concerning membership in the consortium, writes Amy R. Sisk for The Bismarck Tribune.

Erin Mersino, senior trial counsel for Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which filed the suit, said that if the state should decide to go ahead with membership with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the other organization working to develop Common Core-aligned tests, “certainly the lawsuit would continue.”