Many school districts are still adjusting their instruction to implement new Common Core standards that require more rigor, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. But, starting next month, 3 million students throughout the state will be tested on the new standards in pilot assessments that are being called “tests of the tests.”
No scores will be released for students, schools, district or counties. Instead, the Smarter Balanced test developers will use the results to work out the kinks before they are administered in earnest next year.
To help prepare the community for the radical testing changes ahead, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson outlined plans for the assessments slated to take place in every district from March 18 through June 6, in a recent news release.
“It’s an exciting time for our students and our schools as California prepares to usher in assessments that reflect more of the real world than a bubble test ever could,” Torlakson said in a prepared statement. “From individual classrooms to school district offices and certainly at the state level, the preparations that have gone into this have been immense, and I’m looking forward to incorporating what we learn from this year’s field test into next year’s inaugural assessments.”
Assembly Bill 484, authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, ended most of the state’s Standards Tests and other assessments that made up the California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR program, over the last 15 years. The new tests are aligned with the Common Core standards in English-language arts and mathematics, adopted by the California Board of Education in 2010.
Administering the tests on computers will allowing for a broader range of questions than the previous multiple-choice STAR exams. New questions will emphasize critical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving, reflecting the kind of learning necessary to prepare students for college and 21st Century careers.
The California Department of Education has worked with the Educational Testing Service testing contractor, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and other in the education community to develop school and parent outreach and resources.
- A Smarter Balanced website with information on the pilot test, including practice tests, at www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/Sa/smarterfieldtest.asp.
- A clearinghouse of testing information for local school and district testing and technology coordinators, with forms, instructions, videos, and a schedule of workshops about administering the tests at http://californiatac.org/index.html.
- A Smarter Balanced Field Test Questions and Answers website, which is often updated with frequently asked questions and answers touching on issues such as whether a paper-and-pencil version will be available and what technology is required, at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/smarterftqa.asp.
n A technology readiness tool to help schools determine the status of their computers and bandwidth is at www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/sbac-itr-faqs. asp.
n Assessment workshops for schools and districts are at http://www.startest.org/workshop.html.
n Information about the K–12 High Speed Network created for the test is at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/et/st/highspeednetwork.asp.
For middle and high school students, two new videos provide information about the test, including the role they will play in helping to prepare for the real deal in the 2014-15 school year. The high school video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXd451e580&feature=youtu.be
The middle school video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKerb7NsDUE&feature=youtu.be.
More information about Common Core standards is available by visiting: www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc.
Do you think your school and students are ready for the pilot tests?