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To support the implementation of the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium Tool (SBAC), California will need to ensure that its information technology (IT) infrastructure is capable of supporting the universal use of this computer-based assessment. This spring, the IT infrastructure will be taken through a practice run, or field test, that will provide 3 million students and thousands of teachers with a hands-on opportunity to test-out the new assessments. This field test will not provide student test results, but will help identify any necessary technological changes that will need to occur before the assessment system is fully implemented in spring 2015.
As a result of the Field Test, California will have a clearer understanding of its existing IT capacities and needs for improvement to support the successful administration of the new assessments to all students in the following year. Stakeholders can anticipate bumps in the road that will arise during the Field Test that will directly inform the steps that will need to be taken in order for California to be ready for the universal implementation during 2015-’16.
The successful implementation of this new assessment system will provide educational leaders, parents and students with access to information that helps steer California’s educational future towards higher expectations for all of our students and towards the development of a common education language that stakeholders can use to engage in continuous improvement.
Our students have a real opportunity to reach new levels of success during their K-12 education career as the assessment is refined and Common Core is fully implemented. There’s an important role for policymakers, district leaders, teachers, parents, business leaders and community members as this transition continues, which is to understand the implementation process and maintain reasonable expectations. The administration of these new assessments in Spring 2014 will be “testing the test” as well as the capacity of districts, and will provide an opportunity for issues that arise to be addressed before the test goes live in the spring of 2015. While we recognize the hard work that needs to be done by teachers, district leaders, and state policymakers to make Common Core implementation successful, we believe that the investments and hard work will pay off for our students in the long run in preparing them for college and career.