The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has a weekly update. In it, they answer general questions that come up at various meetings and other venues. I will post some of those here for your reference.
How is Smarter Balanced defining college and career readiness?
Smarter Balanced is developing assessments aligned to the full depth and breadth of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Through its member states, and in consultation with the lead standards writers and other national education experts, Smarter Balanced is translating the CCSS into assessment targets, test blueprints, and, ultimately, assessment items and performance tasks. The Consortium also will establish performance benchmarks that define the level of content and skill mastery that marks students as college- and career-ready. These performance benchmarks will be determined through a deliberative and evidence-based standard-setting process, which will include input from K-12 educators and college and university faculty. Setting performance standards will not occur until 2014 after student data have been collected through pilot and field testing. The Consortium has begun the process of translating the standards into assessments, releasing content specifications in ELA/literacy and mathematics and approving the core “claims” about student knowledge and skills that the assessments will seek to measure. Item specifications also have been developed and released for comment.
Has Smarter Balanced decided what proportion of time or number of points will be devoted to performance tasks on the summative assessment?
Smarter Balanced is working with member states to ensure that the design of the summative assessment provides adequate information about student achievement and growth in meeting the English language arts/literacy and mathematics claims.
Although it is still too early in the test design process to make definitive statements, it looks like performance tasks could comprise about half of the time students spend taking the summative assessment, since these activities are meant to measure capacities such as depth of understanding, writing and research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected- or constructed-response items. However, they will likely provide a somewhat smaller proportion of the total points for the summative assessment.
As part of the process to get more specific about test design, we have asked ETS (as part of RFP-09 Test Blueprint and Computer Adaptive Test Specifications) to conduct a preliminary test simulation based on a draft test blueprint developed by Smarter Balanced staff and work groups. This simulation is designed to ensure that the draft test blueprint provides sufficient information about student performance across a wide range of achievement. The draft test blueprint will then be revised by the Item Development, Performance Tasks, and Test Design Work Groups, and presented to Governing States for review.
How can educators get involved in the development and review of items/tasks?
In March 2012, Smarter Balanced awarded RFP-14 Pilot Item/Task/Stimulus Research, Development, and Reviews to CTB/McGraw-Hill. Through this contract, the Consortium will research the performance of innovative items and tasks through cognitive labs and limited field trials; develop the first 10,000 items and tasks (out of the total 47,000) for pilot testing in spring 2013; and analyze the results. The contractor will hire and train educators from Smarter Balanced states to write and review items and tasks for content, bias, and sensitivity based on the guidelines being developed through RFP-04 Item Specifications. Details about how teachers can apply for item/task writing and item/task review positions will be available shortly. Information about how schools can volunteer to participate in the pilot testing in spring 2013 will be available this summer. Smarter Balanced will field test its full array of its 47,000 items and tasks in spring 2014. Teacher recruitment for writing those items/tasks and for participation in the field testing will occur in the 2013-14 school year.
How will scores on the summative assessment be comparable if some students take it at the beginning of the 12-week administration window, while others are tested at the end?
The summative assessment will be administered during the last 12 weeks of the school year. This administration window is designed to allow states and school districts flexibility to ensure that all students have access to the technology resources required to administer the assessment. However, depending on the school year calendar and technology capacity at the local level, it also means that some students could take the summative assessment weeks earlier than others. Smarter Balanced will continue to evaluate the impact of the summative assessment administration window on student scores during the Pilot Test (early 2013) and the Field Test (early 2014) to determine if adjustments in scoring or administration are necessary.
How will scores on the Smarter Balanced assessment support differentiating student performance for the purpose of placement?
A primary feature of the Smarter Balanced system is the commitment by higher education institutions to recognize an agreed-upon performance level on the 11th-grade summative assessment as one piece of evidence that students are ready for entry-level, credit-bearing coursework in English and mathematics and can be exempted from remedial or developmental coursework. If students score at the college-ready level and wish to take more advanced courses, additional information would be needed to make specific course placement decisions. Likewise, if students score below the college-ready level, a placement test or diagnostic assessment may be needed to determine their developmental needs.
How flexible—in terms of timing and content—will the optional interim assessments be?
The Smarter Balanced optional interim assessments are designed to provide educators with actionable information about student progress throughout the year. The interim assessments will include the same types of items and performance tasks as the summative assessment, drawn from a non-secure item bank. Timing and frequency of the interim assessments will be locally determined. In addition, teachers will have the option of administering a comprehensive interim assessment that mirrors the content of the summative assessment or selecting one or more content clusters to assess specific elements of the grade-level Common Core State Standards.
What alternative assessment options will be available for students with special needs?
The Smarter Balanced assessment system will provide accurate measures of achievement and growth for students with disabilities and English language learners. The assessments are being designed from the beginning to address visual, auditory, and physical access barriers—allowing virtually all students to demonstrate what they know and can do.
Smarter Balanced items and tasks will be accessible to as many students as possible without adaptation, while also supporting accommodations to meet the needs of specific subgroups of students, including: auditory presentation of content; tactile presentation of content (e.g., Braille); and translated presentation of content in signed form and select languages.
In addition, two other assessment consortia are being funded by the U.S. Department of Education to develop assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities that will be compatible with Smarter Balanced.
When will schools and districts know which existing computers will be eligible to be used on the Smarter Balanced assessments in 2014-15?
The decision about legacy operating systems will be informed by the data received from the Technology Readiness Tool. The first data collection for the survey closes in June 2012. We expect to complete our analysis of the data by July and will vet among our member states a comprehensive approach to the use of legacy systems by mid-August.
Will Smarter Balanced assessments be available for private schools in the 2014-15 school year in states that will be using the Smarter Balanced assessments to test public school students?
Access to the Smarter Balanced assessments for private schools is one of a number of implementation issues being addressed by the Consortium’s Sustainability Task Force. This task force will provide recommendations regarding how states will procure, administer, and maintain the Smarter Balanced assessment system after the federal grant ends in October 2014. This work is associated with RFP-22, Organization Development and Business Process Consulting. More information is posted here: http://www.k12.wa.us/SMARTER/Jobs-Contracts.aspx. Recommendations from the task force are expected later this year.
Does a shared assessment system require a shared or common curriculum?
No. We believe that curriculum decisions are best made by educators at the local and state levels. States participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will have access to professional development materials and instructional resources for teachers through a digital library. These tools are optional and can be used, as needed, to complement state curriculum supports to districts and teachers.
How will teachers be involved in scoring the Smarter Balanced assessments?
Smarter Balanced is committed to involving teachers throughout the development and implementation of the assessment system. While many assessment components are efficiently scored with computer assistance, teachers will be involved in scoring portions of the summative assessment—including 10 percent of computer-scored, constructed-response items as back reads, and hand-scoring of items that cannot be scored by computer. These scoring activities provide an opportunity to deepen understanding of the Common Core State Standards and assessment practices. Teachers will not score assessments from their state, and those involved in scoring will be compensated through their state’s normal procedures.
For the optional interim assessments, selected-response and technology-enhanced items will be machine scored. To the extent practicable, constructed-response items will also be scored through automated technologies, and items that cannot be scored by computer will be scored locally. Performance tasks will have some components that are scored by computer and others that require human scoring.
How will states that have amended the Common Core State Standards assess students on these additional content standards? States adopting the Common Core State Standards may choose to amend the standards with up to 15 percent additional content. While the Consortium’s primary responsibility is to develop an assessment system aligned with the final version of the standards released in June 2010, the ability to assess these additional standards is an important concern for states. The Smarter Balanced IT Systems Architecture specifies the use of open-source technology and standard protocols whenever possible, with the goal of proving flexibility for states—including the expected ability to incorporate state-developed items that assess these additional content standards into the assessment. As key technology components are developed—including the item bank, test engine, test delivery, and reporting systems—Smarter Balanced will rely on input from member states, work groups, and the Architecture Review Board to ensure that the assessment system meets state needs.
How does computer adaptive testing (CAT) work?
The Smarter Balanced assessment system capitalizes on the precision and efficiency of computer adaptive testing (CAT) for both the mandatory summative assessment and the optional interim assessments. This approach represents a significant improvement over traditional paper-and-pencil assessments used in many states today. Computer adaptive testing adjusts to a student’s ability by basing the difficulty of future questions on previous answers, providing more accurate measurement of student achievement, particularly for high- and low-performing students.
To what extent will the assessments measure 21st-century skills?
The Smarter Balanced assessment system will measure the full depth and breadth of the Common Core State Standards in ELA/literacy and mathematics. The authors of the Common Core explicitly focused on the cognitive skills and knowledge that students need to be ready to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses and in workforce training programs. Critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills are a major focus in the standards. Through innovative items and performance tasks, Smarter Balanced will measure these important skills.
However, the Common Core authors also note that the standards are not meant to encompass everything a student should learn, or describe all of the skills that students need in the 21st century. Indeed, academic readiness—as defined by the Common Core—is only part of a more comprehensive set of knowledge and skills that contribute to college and career readiness, such as work habits, persistence, and postsecondary planning.
Will children with limited computer skills—particularly those in the younger grades—be disadvantaged by an online assessment?
Smarter Balanced is committed to developing an assessment system that accurately measures achievement and growth for all students—regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, or background. To achieve this goal, we must eliminate or minimize factors that could distract students from the ability to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. There are several steps the Consortium is taking to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the technology of next-generation assessments:
While eliminating distractions and creating an accessible test interface are critical, it is important to remember that the Common Core State Standards emphasize proficiency with technology. For example, the 4th grade writing standard calls for students to “demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.” Administering assessments by computer is a part of ensuring that schools and teachers can measure mastery of the full range of the standards.
What are test blueprints?
A test blueprint provides detailed specifications for a student assessment. The blueprint describes the purpose of the assessment, what content will be covered—in this case, the Smarter Balanced Content Specifications—and the proportions of the test devoted to each topic. It also includes the approximate test length and technical details related to scoring. In collaboration with work groups and experts, Smarter Balanced is developing test blueprints for the summative assessment in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, which are now being reviewed by member states.
What information can be shared about the 2013 Pilot Test?
A question came up on this week’s All States call about what information can be shared about the Pilot Test, scheduled for early 2013. Here is a brief summary of our discussion.
The Pilot Test—which will begin in late February and run through March—will provide the first opportunity for a large-scale tryout of the 10,000 assessment items and performance tasks now being developed. Educators are eager to learn more about the assessment system and see firsthand what the items and performance tasks will look like. That’s why we have decided to make participation in the Pilot Test open to all classrooms in the Consortium.
The administration of the Pilot Test will be conducted by the contractor for RFP-19 Test Administration—set to be selected this summer. Additional information about how to participate in the Pilot Test will be made available to states after the start of the school year in September or October. It is expected that state leads will coordinate outreach to schools in their state.
Since the Pilot Test is designed to provide information about the performance of assessment items and performance tasks—not to accurately measure student achievement—the Consortium won’t be able to provide detailed student performance results back to schools. Nonetheless, we want to design the Pilot Test so that some small amount of performance data is available. The Pilot Test will also include brief surveys for students and teachers about their experiences taking and administering the assessment. This feedback will inform the development of the bulk of items and tasks needed for the implementation of the assessment system in the 2014-15 school year.
It is important to remember that this will not be the only opportunity for schools and educators to experience the assessments. In early 2014, a large-scale Field Test will be conducted across member states. Our goal with the Field Test will be to ensure that administration, scoring, and reporting systems function correctly in preparation for the implementation of the assessment system in the 2014-15 school year.
Will Smarter Balanced assessments be timed? If so, how will students with IEPs or other special needs be impacted?
The amount of time that students will work on the assessments will be defined in terms of “sessions.” The length of each session will be based on the amount of time it takes most students—90–95 percent of students—to complete that portion of the assessment. Certainly, there will be students who need additional time, and they will be afforded the opportunity to do so. Additional time to complete the assessment is one of many accommodations that will be available for students with special needs. Member states are collaborating on an accessibility policy framework that will detail how a range of accommodations will be made available.
What support will Smarter Balanced provide to help states and schools interpret assessment results?
Smarter Balanced will develop web-based professional learning tools for teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders to understand how to access and interpret Smarter Balanced interim and summative score reports.
As part of this work, Smarter Balanced will convene state leadership teams charged with recruiting an average of 100 educators per state to form state networks of educators. These educator networks will provide feedback on the development of formative assessment resources and professional learning tools. They will also serve as ambassadors to help states engage stakeholders with resources and trainings to understand and interpret assessment results.
With development of the Smarter Balanced assessment system funded by the Race to the Top Assessment Program, why will there be a cost to states to administer the assessments?
The federal grant covers the cost of developing the assessment system through September 2014. However, there are ongoing costs for administration, maintenance, and enhancements of the assessments, including:•Support for administration and information technology during implementation (e.g., help desk support, software repair);•Hand-scoring of items and tasks that cannot be scored through automated technologies; and•Ongoing item/task development to refresh the item bank.From the beginning, Smarter Balanced has been committed to leveraging technology to reduce costs and improve the quality and accessibility of the assessment system. When the Consortium developed the grant application, we engaged an independent, third-party consultant to estimate the per student operational costs. As we get closer to finalizing the design of the assessments, these figures will be revised. Member states and the Consortium’s Sustainability Task Force will play a critical role in determining the future of Smarter Balanced and ensuring the assessment system is cost-effective.
How will instructional practices and curricula be altered to align with new standards and assessments?
Smarter Balanced is guided by the belief that a balanced, high-quality assessment system can improve teaching and learning by providing information and tools for teachers and schools to help students succeed. Timely and meaningful assessment information can offer specific information about areas of performance so that teachers can follow up with targeted instruction, students can better target their own efforts, and administrators and policymakers can more fully understand what students know and can do, in order to guide curriculum and professional development decisions. The Smarter Balanced theory of action articulates this vision and is available at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Smarter-Balanced-Theory-of-Action.pdf.
Will Smarter Balanced assessments be translated into other languages?
As part of the Race to the Top Assessment Program application, the Consortium made a commitment to translate the mathematics interim and summative assessments into five languages—including Spanish and sign language. The Consortium is developing a translations framework to guide this work.
It is important to note, however, that translation is just one way to help ensure that the assessments accurately measure the knowledge and skills of English language learners. Smarter Balanced is focused on including construct-relevant language in our math items, which minimizes the appearance of construct-irrelevant language use. All assessment items and performance tasks will go through a bias and sensitivity review. In addition, the assessments will include accessibility and accommodations options that will help English language learners while taking the assessment.
Will there be training available on the English language arts/literacy rubrics? Will “anchor papers” be made available to use when training teachers?
As part of the development of formative assessment practices and strategies, Smarter Balanced will create a digital library of professional development materials, resources, and tools aligned to the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced claims and assessment targets. The digital library will include professional development materials related to all components of the assessment system, such as scoring rubrics and work samples. More information about the development of formative assessment tools and resources is available in the Formative Assessment Master Work Plan: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Formative-Assessment-Master-Work-Plan-Narrative.pdf.
Will there be a standards-based report card for students, schools, and districts? Smarter Balanced is developing a secure, online reporting system that will provide assessment results to students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The reports—differentiated by audience—will show student achievement and progress toward college and career readiness as measured by the claims in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, which are aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Information about the claims is available in the Smarter Balanced ELA/Literacy and Mathematics Content Specifications: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/.
Reports will likely provide more detailed information at the classroom and school level. For example, on the writing claim, it may be difficult to report sub-scores within writing—such as organization or style—at the student level, but it may be possible to do so across a larger number of students at classroom or school level.
How will visitors access the sample items and performance tasks?
The Smarter Balanced sample items and performance tasks will be accessed through SmarterBalanced.org beginning early October. The samples will be displayed in a simulated test platform that will allow users to interact with and score selected items and tasks. The site will be compatible with common Internet browsers, and a full list of compatible browsers will be available. In addition, we are working with software developers to convert graphics into a format that is compatible with popular tablet devices. Regardless of the requirements to access the sample items and tasks, a variety of eligible computers and tablet devices will be compatible with the operational assessment in the 2014-15 school year. Additional information is available in the Smarter Balanced new hardware purchasing guidelines available at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/technology/.
What are achievement level descriptors (ALDs)?
Achievement level descriptors (ALDs) are text statements that articulate the knowledge, skills, and abilities represented at different categories of performance on the Smarter Balanced assessments, including the college- and career-ready category for the high school assessment. They describe how students are progressing toward mastery of the Common Core State Standards and provide clear explanations of student performance for policymakers, educators, and parents. Smarter Balanced has developed an inclusive, collaborative process for drafting initial ALDs in collaboration with K-12 teachers and higher education faculty nominated by member states, as well as content experts. Draft ALDs will be available for feedback during a four-month comment period later this year. Preliminary ALDs are expected to be finalized by March 2013 by Governing States.
What are the technology requirements for viewing the Smarter Balanced sample items and tasks?
The sample items and performance tasks are compatible with desktop and laptop computers with the following Internet browsers:
In addition, Android and iPad tablets with 9.5-inch screens (10-inch class) or larger are supported with the following Internet browsers:
It is important to note that these specifications do not reflect the minimum technology requirements for the operational Smarter Balanced assessment system in the 2014-15 school year. More information on the Consortium’s new hardware purchasing guidelines is available at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/technology/.
How long will it take students to complete the Smarter Balanced summative assessment?
The length of the summative assessment has not yet been decided. This fall, Governing States will be asked to review and approve the summative assessment design, which encompasses test length, reporting categories, and the test blueprint.
Test length is influenced by several factors, including the amount of content that the test assesses. The Common Core ELA/literacy standards cover writing and speaking and listening. This represents a much broader range of content than most statewide reading assessments cover today. Smarter Balanced will assess the depth and breadth of the Common Core to provide a richer picture of student achievement.
In addition, the summative assessment is made up of the computer adaptive test (CAT) and performance tasks that are delivered by computer but are not adaptive. Computer adaptive testing is more efficient than fixed-form tests, requiring fewer questions to produce a more accurate picture of a student’s strengths and weaknesses. Performance tasks—which may require one to two class periods to complete—will be used to better measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected- or constructed-response items. The length of both of these components will determine the overall test length.
Will the Smarter Balanced content specifications be updated?
Earlier this year, Smarter Balanced Governing States approved content claims in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The claims are the central, organizing themes of the content specifications, and can be found in those documents. The purpose of the content specifications was to analyze the Common Core State Standards through an assessment lens, to make declarations about what the Smarter Balanced assessments will say about student achievement, and to describe the kinds of evidence we will look for as manifestations of that achievement.
The Smarter Balanced item/task specifications—which define the characteristics of items and tasks that will appear on the Smarter Balanced assessments—were based on the content specifications. Our service providers are using the item/task specifications to write items and tasks for the Pilot Test that will occur this spring. We have encouraged item writers to make note of ways to strengthen and clarify the item/task specifications, and they can be viewed as a somewhat dynamic set of documents that we will continue to improve.
However, the content specifications, being the basis for the item/task specifications, will remain in their current form through the development of the 2014-15 assessment. Once we complete our first or second year of implementation, it may be appropriate to revisit the content specifications. At that time, we will have gathered substantial information on student performance, and we should know much more about how items and tasks work in an online environment, as well as what we can expect from different scoring strategies. This new information will certainly inform the statements of the kinds of evidence we seek in our assessments.
Overviews of the current content claims are available on the Consortium’s website:
Why are some of the English language arts/literacy sample items and tasks missing a reading passage?
The sample English language arts/literacy items and performance tasks include a mixture of published and commissioned reading passages and sources. Smarter Balanced has not obtained permission to reprint copyrighted passages and source documents referenced in the sample items. As a result, several sample items and performance tasks—Planes on the Brain 1–3, Animal Defenses, and Garden—include only the citations for copyrighted material, rather than the complete text. For the operational assessment in the 2014-15 school year, Smarter Balanced intends to use primarily published passages—reflecting the emphasis in the Common Core on exposure to “high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts”—and the full text of these passages will be available to students.
Will high school students have the option to test earlier than grade 11?
Through the optional interim assessments, teachers will have the ability to administer a comprehensive interim assessment that mirrors the content of the summative assessment, or to select one or more content clusters to assess specific elements of the grade-level Common Core State Standards for students in 9th and 10th grade. In addition, Smarter Balanced will develop an end-of-course test-builder, using the interim item bank, for states that wish to administer high school end-of-course assessments. The design characteristics of the interim assessment for grades 9 and 10 are still being developed and reviewed by member states.
How did Smarter Balanced determine the minimum technology specifications?
The Technology Approach Work Group collaborated with member states, as well as Navigation North, American Institutes for Research, Measured Progress, and Pearson to analyze the memory and processor load that the test delivery engine will require; the bandwidth necessary to transmit stimulus materials and items to students; and the data submitted by Smarter Balanced schools and districts through the Technology Readiness Tool. These analyses identified the minimum technology necessary to assess the full depth and breadth of the Common Core State Standards in a next-generation assessment.
Why are the blueprints for the summative assessments of mathematics and English language arts/literacy for grades 3–8 and high school referred to as “preliminary”? These blueprints are referred to as “preliminary” because they establish assessment design features that may be subject to refinement and revision after the analysis of Pilot and Field testing. Final blueprints for the Smarter Balanced summative assessments will be adopted by Governing States prior to full implementation in the 2014-15 school year.
Whom do I contact if I have questions about recruitment for the Smarter Balance Pilot Test? Please contact the recruitment contractor, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) Phone: 800-847-3193 Email: SmarterBalancedRecruitment@DataRecognitionCorp.com
What are achievement level descriptors (ALDs)? Achievement level descriptors (ALDs) are text statements that articulate the knowledge, skills, and abilities represented at different categories of performance on Smarter Balanced assessments. Including the college and career ready category for the high school assessment, they describe how students are progressing toward mastery of the Common Core State Standards and provide clear explanations of student performance for policymakers, educators, and parents. Smarter Balanced has developed an inclusive, collaborative process for drafting initial ALDs in collaboration with K-12 teachers and higher education faculty nominated by member states, as well as content experts. Draft ALDs will be available for feedback during a four-month comment period later this year. Preliminary ALDs are expected to be finalized by March 2013 by Governing States.
What are achievement level descriptors (ALDs)? Achievement level descriptors (ALDs) are text statements that articulate the knowledge, skills, and abilities represented at different categories of performance on Smarter Balanced assessments. Including the college and career ready category for the high school assessment, they describe how students are progressing toward mastery of the Common Core State Standards and provide clear explanations of student performance for policymakers, educators, and parents. Smarter Balanced has developed an inclusive, collaborative process for drafting initial ALDs in collaboration with K-12 teachers and higher education faculty nominated by member states, as well as content experts. Draft ALDs have been available for feedback from a wide range of stakeholders since November 2012. Preliminary ALDs are expected to be finalized by March 2013 by Governing States.
Sorry, this was the same question as last week. I cannot delete my own posts!
Will students’ Pilot Test scores be available to the public?
The Pilot Test is designed to be a test of the items, performance tasks, and testing system—not an opportunity to report on student learning. Therefore, schools participating in the Pilot Test will not receive student scores.
Is the list of schools participating in the Pilot Test public information?
To avoid distractions for students and schools, this information should not be shared publically.
Is there a plan to provide communication materials in Spanish?
Yes, a Spanish translation project is underway that will include translating factsheets and an overview page on the website that will link to additional Common Core resources in Spanish. The project will be complete by the end of March.
Are external keyboards required for tablets?
Yes, external keyboards are required for tablets. Any form of external keyboard that disables the on-screen virtual keyboard is acceptable. This includes mechanical, manual, plug and play, and wireless-based (e.g., Bluetooth, RF, IR) keyboards.
What is a performance task? Performance tasks challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to respond to real-world problems. They can best be described as collections of questions and activities that are coherently connected to a single theme or scenario. These activities are meant to measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected- or constructed-response items. Performance tasks in reading, writing, and mathematics will be part of the Smarter Balanced summative year-end assessment. Performance tasks can also be administered as part of the optional interim assessments throughout the year. The performance tasks will be delivered by computer (but will not be computer adaptive), and they will take one to two class periods to complete.
Will all schools that volunteer be able to participate in testing? Yes, however, schools that volunteer will be taking a different version of the assessment in the same online format as the scientific population. Volunteer administrations will start in April.
iPad Testing with Mechanical Keyboard—I would like to know if the mechanical keyboard is a must, and if so what are you recommending for iPad usage? Also, is there a future plan to configure your software in a manner where iPads can be used standalone with the on-screen keyboard instead of a mechanical one?
The Technology Approach and Reporting Work Group is currently working update to the Technology Strategy Framework document related to keyboards. The work group is close to having a definitive response, but not there yet. The external keyboard requirement as stated in the Technology Strategy Framework document is accurate. Smarter Balanced will be sure to respond as necessary if the final update results in any changes to the current specifications for keyboards.
Please keep in mind that the concern with the use of embedded keyboards on touch-screen devices is the amount of "real estate" those keyboards use up, resulting in less screen space available for items and response areas. This can be a problem when items need to allocate space to include, for example, a reading passage or passages, the test question area, and the response area.
Can students use their Chromebooks to complete the assessment?
Yes, students may test on Chromebooks. For more information about supported technology and technology requirements, please refer to the Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework and System Requirements Specifications posted on the Smarter Balanced website at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/technology/.
Will the Smarter Balanced release of the Practice Test affect the Pilot Test schools?
No. Pilot Test schools will continue with their schedule.
How can I get access to the Practice Test online?
Online access to the Practice Test will be through the Smarter Balanced external website and will not require a username and password, meaning that schools and districts can use the Practice Test for professional development activities and for discussions with parents, policymakers, and other interested stakeholders.
What happens after Smarter Balanced assessments are implemented in the 2014-15 school year?
In March 2013, Smarter Balanced Governing States accepted recommendations from the Sustainability Task Force, including a scope of services and a plan to engage with the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies as an ongoing affiliate. This approach will provide access to faculty expertise and research support and offer a full array of administrative services that the Consortium requires after the conclusion of the federal grant in 2014. Starting in 2014-15, and carrying forward from there, Smarter Balanced will continue to be a state-led organization committed to providing high-quality assessment tools and information to educators and policymakers in our member states. We will not be seeking any additional federal funding for development work. Rather, our ongoing development and continuous improvement will be integrated into our overall sustainability efforts, all of which will be governed by the decisions of our member states.
Will Smarter Balanced assessments replace the SAT and ACT?
No. The 11th grade summative assessment is not designed to be a college admissions test. Rather, it is designed to help students and higher education institutions better gauge which students leave high school prepared for credit-bearing work in English and math. That’s a different question than whether or not students should be admitted. Colleges and universities often admit students who are not immediately ready for credit-bearing coursework. Additionally, colleges and universities vary in how much they rely upon the SAT and ACT, and in the scores on those tests they expect students to meet. So, we believe institutions of higher education will continue to rely on scores from the SAT and ACT in the admissions process. A related area that Smarter Balanced is working on is to coordinate with member states to see how Smarter Balanced results will most effectively be reported to the colleges and universities that students choose.
If states administer a paper-and-pencil version of the assessment, will scores be comparable with the computer adaptive test?
Smarter Balanced will make a paper-and-pencil version of the summative assessment available during a three-year transition period as schools and districts upgrade their technology. Smarter Balanced will conduct research and will perform equating studies to ensure that results are comparable across the two modes of assessment and to put the paper-and-pencil forms onto the scale used for the online testing. To improve the precision of the paper-and-pencil version, Smarter Balanced may develop a short “locator” test that will help target an appropriate longer form of the assessment for individual students.
If states administer a paper-and-pencil version of the assessment, will scores be
What happens after Smarter Balanced assessments are implemented in the 2014-15
Will the Smarter Balanced release of the Practice Test affect the Pilot Test schools
assess4ed.net is a Connected Online Community of Practice.Learn More