Smarter Balanced practice tests now available

Teachers interested in an interactive look at the Smarter Balanced assessment can now take a practice test. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) made practice tests available starting last week for teachers, students, parents and the public in advance of the test’s full deployment in Maine schools starting in 2015.

The new assessments are aligned with the Common Core State Standards – more rigorous standards that were developed collaboratively by 45 states and better prepare students for the challenges of college and careers. The computer-based tests go beyond multiple-choice questions to allow students to demonstrate the analytical skills and real-world problem solving in demand by employers, colleges and essential to being a productive 21st century citizen. They are the natural next step in a decades-long process of establishing clear and high expectations for students, helping them meet them and measuring whether they are prepared for success after high school.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium practice tests are online at www.smarterbalanced.org/practice-test/.

The SBAC assessment will cost Maine considerably less than the $40 per student for testing Maine currently spends. The common standards and assessments will also allow for efficiencies in developing and sourcing the highest quality professional development and materials from around the country.

The new tests will help teachers and administrators get meaningful and timely information. Rather than learning half-way through the school year that a student needed help in a particular topic months ago, teachers will get rapid results to help them address individual and class educational needs.

The practice tests available now provide a preview of the types of questions that will be featured in the summative assessment when it is launched in the spring of 2015, including selected-response items, constructed-response items, technology-enhanced items and performance tasks – extended activities that challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to respond to real-world problems.

Smarter Balanced conducted pilot tests earlier this year, including at some schools in Maine. The pilot test allowed the Consortium to gather information about the performance of assessment items and the test delivery system under real-world conditions. Development of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System will continue after the release of the practice tests and through summer 2014 in collaboration with member states and educators.

More information on Smarter Balanced can be found at www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/.

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