Gov. Jack Markell is going along with a plan to drop the Smarter Balanced Assessment from 11th grade requirements starting this year. But the controversial exam will still be the official state test for 3rd through 8th graders.
A group of state House Democrats made the request to cut the exam from junior year on Monday. They argued that juniors already have to take the SAT and other college-entrance tests. With such a heavy load, they said too few students were taking Smarter Balanced to make it a good measure of progress.
Now, the new Common Core-aligned SAT -- debuting this spring -- will be the official state test for 11th grade. Markell made the announcement Wednesday.
"We believe that the concerns about the testing burden on our juniors are well founded," he said in a statement, adding that the move would reduce that burden "without sacrificing our ability to understand whether we are serving our students well and whether they are making the progress they need to be successful."
Markell says the state will still administer Smarter Balanced as the state test in third through eighth grade.
That's despite continued outcry over that exam, which parents and some legislators say is ineffective and too long -- stretching over two days at eight hours, to the SAT's four.
A bill to let students opt out of the test was approved last session, then vetoed by Markell. The legislature will consider overriding that veto when they reconvene next week.