Ah, it is Spring in Washington State, the days are brighter, the weather is changing (sometimes multiple times a day), and our kids are once again gearing up for the last standardized test of this school year, the MSP/HSPE/EOC (last 2 are high school exams). Unfortunately for students in over 100 schools across Washington they will have 1 extra test to take, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Scientific Pilot test. (1) Yes that is correct, the students at these schools have been volunteered to pilot this new test, and, to their dismay, they are also required to take the MSP/HSPE/EOC test as scheduled. (2) The double testing is required because the SBAC does not yet qualify as an accurate academic assessment.
What is the Scientific Pilot Test?
According to the SBAC official website students grades 3-11 that attend participating volunteer schools in WA will begin testing as early as April 9, 2013 depending on their schools schedule. (1) The Pilot Test is completely online and is a controlled test, each volunteer school selected to participate will do only 1 of 3 subjects, either Math, Language Arts, or Literacy.(4) This test will not be graded or recorded, the kids will actually be testing the delivery system “under real-world conditions,” while getting familiar with the newer testing structure. (3) As the kids will be testing the system and not be assessed for learning they will still be required to take the MSP/HSPE/EOC. To find out if your child’s school in Washington State has volunteered to pilot this test click here: http://www.k12.wa.us/SMARTER/pubdocs/WA-SBPilotSchoolsFeb22-2013.pdf for a list of schools in other states, please see your states Dept. of Ed. website.
So then what is the SBAC Practice Test?
Good question, according to the WA OPSI website there was an “overwhelming demand for access to the Volunteer Pilot assessment.” (1) Unfortunately it does not say who was demanding this, be it parents or schools, but Smarter Balance decided to create a 2nd testing option, the SBAC Practice Test. This Practice Test will be accessible online and available to every student within participating states. According to the SBAC website this practice test does not require registration, no username or password, and encourages it to be used not only for professional development activities, but also as a source for parents and policymakers to see what Smarter Balance Testing is all about.(3) Again this is not a graded or recorded test, but a resource to sell the concept to parents, educators, and anyone else that needs to be “sold” on the concept.
The SBAC Practice Test will open beginning 5/29/13, not long after public schools finish their MSP testing. SBAC boasts that one of the “perks” to the Practice Test is that it will be available until the rollout of the operational assessment, so students will be able to take the tests over the summer.
Who can participate in the Pilot Test?
Those students within participating volunteer schools that are in the grades selected for the Pilot Test are encouraged to take it. If a student would not typically take the states assigned standardized test (in WA it is the MSP), then they will not be selected to take the Pilot Test…This includes those children that are exempt from testing on their IEP or those that would take the states Alternate Assessment due to certain disabilities. (5)
What accommodations will the Pilot Test include?
If the student requires special accommodations for testing and those accommodations are listed in an IEP or 504 Plan then and they are not exempt from your states standardized testing then they should be able to take the Pilot Test. The Pilot Test is fully online and will include versions for the following accommodations: Text-to-speech, Item-level pop-up Spanish glossaries for construct-irrelevant terms (mathematics only), Braille, American Sign Language (ASL), and extra testing time. (1) This is a brief list of what can be accommodated, please contact your school if you have questions or concerns about this Pilot Test or accommodations.
Can we opt out of the Pilot Test?
Yes, contact your child’s school to verify that your child is on the list to take the Pilot Test. If you wish for your child to not take the test then let the school know. Just to be safe, instruct your child on what to do if they are taken to test; Some options if this happens are: Send a note with your child explaining they are opting not to participate and why, instruct your child to not begin the test-they can sit there and request you or a specified contact be called, if the school still insist on your childs participation then prepare to have your child picked up and contact your states Department of Education and get media attention because this is not a mandatory test as of yet!
Is this information specific to one state?
Although there are some state specific links the majority of the Smarter Balanced information came straight from the SBAC website. For a complete list of participating schools within your state please go to your states Department of Education website and look for the common core testing links.