Smarter Balanced pilot testing registration open to schools

Schools, educators and students across Maine are invited to take part in a pilot testing program for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to learn more about SBAC.

Maine is a founding member and governing state within SBAC. SBAC is currently designing tests that will measure the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics—standards that were adopted by Maine DOE last year. Along with the other 24 states that comprise the consortium, Maine will be formally transitioning its federal accountability assessment program to SBAC in the 2014-15 school year for grades 3-8 and high school.

If you and your school would like to participate in the SBAC testing program this spring, please read on.


The pilot will be a computer-based administration in the content areas of English Language Arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. Items are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and will include selected response, constructed response and performance tasks.

The SBAC test entails two approaches in its implementation:

  1. “Volunteer” component that is open to all schools in Smarter Balanced states and will ensure that all schools have the opportunity to experience the basic functionality of the system
  2. “Scientific” component that targets a representative sample of schools and yields critical data about the items developed to date as well as about how the system is functioning

Participation and Expectations

  • Volunteering Schools (Released Test Items available during the second half of the Pilot Test window): All schools are encouraged to volunteer to participate in the pilot test. All schools that volunteer will receive an opportunity to administer a version of the assessment. Schools are invited to indicate their interest in volunteering for the pilot by registering via an online survey.
  • Scientifically Selected Schools (two-week window between Feb. 20 and May 10, 2013): Schools (approximately 10 percent in each state) will be selected to participate in this pilot based on predetermined demographic criteria, to ensure that the pilot items are administered to a representative sample of students. Selected schools will be contacted by the American Institutes for Research’s (AIR) recruiting partner, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), or by a designated state representative, between late Nov. 2012 and Jan. 2013 to be invited to participate in the scientific component of the pilot test.

Scientifically selected schools will be offered specific in-depth test administration training in the form of webinars and training modules and will be assigned a specific two-week window within the test window to test their students. Helpdesk support will be available to schools participating in the scientific sample starting Jan. 2, 2013.

Administration Time

For scheduling purposes, schools should plan for approximately three hours of testing, per grade, per content area. Testing times will vary depending on the subject area, grade and type of module provided. Scientifically selected schools will be requested to administer the test in no more than two grades. Only one content area (ELA or mathematics) will be administered for each grade within a school. The Release Test Items will be available for the other grades and content areas.

Technical Requirements for Participation

The online test delivery system will work on a variety of hardware/operating system configurations. Computers used for the assessment administration must meet certain minimum requirements to function effectively. Most current systems will work, with the caveat that faster processors and more hard drive space will improve performance. Detailed information on minimum specifications for SBAC systems will be made available to all Smarter Balanced states on Dec. 4.

Accommodations and Testing Features

Some of the most common online accommodations and testing features will be available for the pilot. The accommodations on the assessment will not be representative of the full array of accommodations and testing features that will ultimately be available.

As other SBAC opportunities become available, the Department will announce their development widely.

The recently redesigned SBAC website,, contains a host of information regarding the partnership and has been engineered to be very user-friendly. For those visiting the site for the first time, you may want to visit the “Resources & Events” tab and click the FAQ section.

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