Students to field test new assessment exams | Mukilteo schools

By Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Apr 02, 2014

With the arrival of spring each year, we also see the season where nearly all students take state assessments to determine whether they are meeting academic standards.

It’s usually a stressful time for both students and their teachers, especially at the high school level, where meeting state standard in the tests is a requirement to receive a diploma.

But, this year, things are slightly different. While high school students will take the tests as before to meet their graduation requirements, most elementary and middle school students will be field testing a new assessment called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The tests are a key part in implementing the Common Core State Standards.

You may have heard about the Common Core State Standards, as their adoption has met with some differences in opinion.

Academic learning standards are nothing new. They are statements that define what a fourth grade student is supposed to learn in math, for example, or what a seventh grader should know in English. They are important because they help assure that students attending different schools will be taught the same thing.

For the past several years, those standards in the state of Washington have been outlined in what are called Grade Level Expectations.

Students in the third through eighth grades were tested on whether they met those standards with an assessment called the Measurements of Student Progress. High school students took a test called the High School Proficiency Exam.

The Common Core State Standards take the learning standards a step further, however. Instead of the standards developed at the local or state level, they were designed by a panel of experts to be adopted at the national level so that students in Massachusetts, Nevada and Kansas would be held to the same standards as those in Washington.

The vast majority of states have adopted the Common Core State Standards. In Washington, the Common Core State Standards in math and in English language arts are to be fully implemented next year.

To get ready, our teachers have had a significant amount of training in the new teaching standards during the last couple of years.

When the standards change, so must the assessments that measure whether a student is meeting those standards. That’s where this new SBAC test comes in.

The new test is aligned with the new learning standards and will replace the current state assessments beginning next year. But, tests need to be tested to see if they are accurate and fair to students.

It also is an online assessment, so we will be testing our technology to see if it is ready for the challenge of having large numbers of students taking assessments on the Internet. That’s what is happening this spring.

Because it’s a field test, test results will not be made available. That means the parents of those students taking the SBAC assessment this spring will not receive their child’s test results in math and English language arts.

Nevertheless, we trust that the students will take the test seriously. Only that way can we gauge the readiness of our students in advance of them taking the test when it really counts next year.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Fred Taylor | Apr 02, 2014 16:03

The Common Core standards have so far proven to be an absolute disaster, with the state of Indiana leading the way in dropping them before the education of the children of that state was seriously damaged through their planned implementation. Hopefully the state of Washington will follow their example.

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