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Aligning with the Common Core through SBAC test

New test will determine students’ preparedness for careers and college

Ellery Lloyd, Staff Reporter
Originally published November 10, 2014

Avary LenzJuniors taking the SBAC will take the test online, but sophomores taking the test will use pencil and paper.

Avary Lenz

Juniors taking the SBAC will take the test online, but sophomores taking the test will use pencil and paper.

This year in addition to taking AP tests, the SAT and the ACT, juniors can look forward to an entirely new test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or SBAC. The SBAC is an online test that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and is designed to help measure students progress toward college and careers after high school.

The CCSS are focused on providing consistent goals for students across the United States. For language arts, the standards stress critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills. The math standards focus on conceptual understanding of key ideas and reviewing concepts.

At this point the 43 states signed to the CCSS are doing different things with the standards. Maryland is separating the scores from their test into two tiers: students scoring in the higher tier would be considered ready for college and careers while the second tier scores would be considered on track to graduate.

Academic intervention specialist Sid Glass explained that the format of the test will not be like the High School Proficiency Exam or End of Course exam that students have taken. The SBAC will be an online adaptive test. Correct answers will lead to harder questions and incorrect answers will lead to easier questions, a similar format to the Measure of Academic Progress tests that were controversial in the Seattle School District in 2013.

The test will be one of the determining factors in the process of deciding what remedial classes students may need to take.

Many Ballard students don’t know very much about the SBAC, but those who do generally aren’t looking forward to a new test this spring. Regarding the test’s ability to judge college and career readiness, students don’t seem too hopeful.

“I feel like testing puts a lot of pressure and makes it harder for you to really do your best,” junior Nikayla Dietz said.

Juniors aren’t the only class that will be taking a new standardized test this year. Sophomores will have the same version of the SBAC late this May. It will cover the reading and language arts skills the HSPE covered and will be aligned with the CCSS but unlike the 11th grade SBAC it will be a “pencil and paper test.”

The assessments are intended to test students’ progress in math and language arts, and will be taken by students in third through eighth grade and also in 11th grade. The test will end up phasing out the math EOC, HSPE, and biology EOC for students in Washington state, starting with the class of 2019.

This years juniors will not need to pass the test as a graduation requirement, however Glass encourages kids not to disregard the impact it will have.

The state will use it to judge how well the school is performing, even if students have already passed the required HSPE and EOC tests, and every student whose test isn’t taken will be counted as a zero. But the school isn’t the only one with standards to meet.

Students who are looking at colleges, especially four-year colleges and universities will have to perform well. Even though it is the first year students will take the test, colleges will be able to see scores and could consider them when looking at applicants.

“The test scores will be used by colleges, both four year and two year, to determine placement into college level courses,” Glass said. Meaning that kids who score at a high enough level will not have to take an entrance exam to determine placement in math and english classes.

For this years’ 10th grade, and classes to come, the SBAC will become a new graduation requirement in their junior year.

The test will help Ballard take another step towards being aligned with the common core. According to the SBAC website, “The Smarter Balanced assessment system will give parents and students accurate information about whether students are on the right track to graduate high school ready for college and the workplace.”


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Aligning with the Common Core through SBAC test