- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota Supreme Court this week upheld the state’s participation in a group that developed Common Core-aligned testing for students and ruled that the assessments don’t violate state law.

The high court in an opinion filed Wednesday affirmed a lower court’s decision in favor of the state and South Dakota officials. The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center had sued on behalf of two South Dakota parents over the state’s membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which developed exams to test students on the Common Core state standards in math and English language arts.

The conservative Christian Thomas More Law Center wrote in a news release announcing the 2015 lawsuit that it was stepping up its attack on Common Core with the litigation. A circuit court judge last year sided with the state, and the two parents and taxpayers, Shelli Grinager and Amber Mauricio, appealed the decision.

The state Supreme Court rejected claims that member states must get congressional approval of the consortium. The court also shot down the parents’ argument that administering the consortium’s computer-adaptive assessments violates a state law that requires the state to administer the same assessment to all students in each tested grade.

Tony Venhuizen, chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, said the state is pleased with the opinion. Grinager didn’t immediately reply to a message requesting comment. Mauricio declined to comment.

The Thomas More Law Center’s 2015 news release said Grinager is a former school board member who has fought against Common Core and has spoken out against the roll out of the consortium’s “high pressure” tests.

“The public school environment has become more about testing our children than teaching them,” she said in the release.

The state Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards in math and English language arts in 2010. The standards outline what students ought to know and should be able to do at each grade’s end. South Dakota started using the new Smarter Balanced standardized tests during the 2014-2015 schoolyear.

The state Supreme Court decision could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are still reviewing the opinion, and we have not made a decision at this time,” said Kate Oliveri, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center.

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