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We’re gearing up towards tests that will be better able to demonstrate what students are learning and how they are progressing towards college and career readiness.
Successful implementation of the Common Core standards relies on high-quality assessments that measure how well our students are acquiring the skills and faculties embedded within the Common Core. A group of states that includes California has created assessments linked to the new standards, which will be given a practice run, also known as a “Field Test”, over the next few months to assess their effectiveness.
Known as the Smarter Balance Assessment or SBAC (acronym stands for the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium that created this tool) will provide a more comprehensive measure for determining student comprehension and their ability to think critically and apply what they have learned.
The new assessments:
These tests move away from a fill in the bubble format to a technology-based format allowing for a better measure of the knowledge and skills students are acquiring through the use of short answer, longer responses and performance tasks, in addition to multiple choice questions.
In order to provide a clearer understanding of where students are, the SBAC is designed to be a responsive test that adjusts to the abilities of the student as demonstrated by their responses to each of the questions. This means that rather than simply telling us whether or not a student understands the overall concept, the SBAC is designed to identify specific skills or elements within the concept that the student might be struggling with. This in turn provides the direct opportunity for educators and parents to use this information to provide more intentional support that addresses actual rather than inferred gaps in student knowledge and comprehension.
The goal of the new assessment tools is to provide educators and parents with a more concrete understanding of their students’ progress towards achieving the relevant standards for their grade.
Though such a decline could be seen as a step back for our kids, in actuality, the results from next year’s testing present us with an incredible opportunity to both have a more accurate assessment tools and to establish a baseline of data on where our students are in relation to the higher level thinking that the Common Core will introduce.