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Smarter Balanced Field Tests around CA starting tomorrow

Yana Gracile | March 24, 2014

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Smarter BalancedAs California gets ready to transition to a new assessment system, the state is set to rollout its Smarter Balanced Field Test starting tomorrow.

As part of the field test, the state will be examining technological capacity and the quality of test questions, while helping students and teachers prepare for next year’s first operational test, said Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction in a press release.

“Over the next three months, students, teachers, and administrators will gain valuable hands-on experience in a new era of student assessments,” he said. “With more than 3 million students participating, this is the largest field test of its kind in the nation. It is a challenging transformation, but our schools are rising to that challenge with a great sense of excitement and determination.”

The “test of the test,” which runs through June 6, will serve multiple purposes—but mainly to gauge the accuracy and fairness of the test questions ahead of the new assessments that will become operational next year.

Across the nation, more than 20,000 assessment questions and performance tasks will be evaluated to determine which work well and which need to be improved. Test questions are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, adopted by California in 2010, to encourage critical thinking, complex problem solving, and deeper knowledge of subjects.

“I am particularly interested in hearing teachers’ views on the questions and their appropriateness for the students they work with every day,” Torlakson said.

The field test will also take into account computer availability and server capacity while at the same time, allowing teachers to observe their students’ computer skills.

“This field test gives us the opportunity to prepare our students for success,” he added. “The STAR program served us well for years, but the world has changed, and our schools also have to change the way they teach and test their students.”

The field test will cover English-language arts and mathematics for students in grades three through eight and a sampling of students in grades nine and 10.


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