A Teacher’s Professional Conscience: Objecting to the Assessments


I have had the immense fortune of being able to be in front of children for 25 years, as of this year, as a teacher in many different capacities. It truly humbles me to know that for 25 years, parents … Continue reading

Labeling Students: Not College and Career Ready


For years it seemed like there was a major move away from labeling students.  We may be back to labeling students.  Students now may be labeled “College and Career Ready” or “Not College and Career Ready”.   Will labeling a student … Continue reading

SBAC: Quagmire of Poor Technological Design


This gallery contains 2 photos.

  In the last 10 years, so many changes have taken place in education it is hard to keep up with everything.  And the changes just keep coming at an every quickening pace.  Assessments have changed and continue to change … Continue reading

The Smarter Balanced (SBAC) Practice Test Just Launched 3/29/13; Parents try it free!!

It is time everybody! The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has launched their smarter Balanced (SBAC) Practice Test!! Originally scheduled to launch Wednesday, May 29, 2013, it is already up and ready for anyone to try out.

Why am I so excited? Simple, this test is open to everyone with internet access to try out and parents are encouraged to play with it. With all of the build up by Common Core supporters claiming the effectiveness of the new “rigorous,” confusing, deeper thinking group work that encourages consensus, I personally cannot wait to see this test with my own eyes! Even though this is not the final, official test, it will be good to see how it functions and see the overall style and structure of the test, from questions and problems asked to the methods of answering required. I know that the official SBAC Test in the 2014/15 school year may change a lot from this practice test, if it even still exists by then, but I want to see it and give my feedback along the way.

In case you are wondering what the SBAC test is, it is the new Common Core aligned state standardized test that will replace all participating states current testing in the 2014-15 school year. I don’t know about other states, but in Washington State parents have not been allowed to preview the current state standardized test, the MSP. Kids and teachers alike are instructed and, in many cases sign an agreement not to discuss the MSP or it’s content with other people, including parents. With that as the precedent I was surprised to find out that the Practice Test is open to everyone and does not require registration or a secret code to access it.

How to access the SBAC Practice Test:

1. You cannot access the Practice Test from Internet Explorer, you must use either Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Apple Safari.

2. Once you have one of these browsers open then go to this address http://sbac.portal.airast.org/Practice_Test/default.html

3. Click on Student Interface Practice Test

4. Click Sign In. This should log you in as a guest user

5. Select a grade and enjoy the test

Taken from the SBAC website directly (2), here is some information about the Practice Test:


The Practice Tests provide a preview of the Smarter Balanced assessments, but they do not encompass the full range of content that students will encounter on the spring 2014 Field Test or on the operational assessments, and should not be used to guide instructional decisions. In addition, students and teachers will not receive reports or scores from the Practice Tests. Although the operational assessment system will be computer adaptive, the Practice Tests follow a fixed-form model.

The practice test will provide:

  • administrators and parents access to items planned and designed for the new assessment;

  • students access to the tests over the summer, with the Practice Test being accessible right up to rollout of the operational assessment;

  • a full array of item types including performance tasks;

  • versions supporting several accommodations:

    • Text-to-speech

    • Item-level pop-up Spanish glossaries for construct irrelevant terms (Math tests only)

    • Braille

    • American Sign Language (ASL) NOTE – Accommodated forms will be released in phases across the listed grade/content combinations:

      • Phase 1 – May 29: Accommodations available in grades 3, 7, 11 for Math and in grades 4, 7, and 11 for ELA; no ASL support for any grades

      • Phase 2 – {TBD, based on vendor production capacity}: Accommodations in all grades for both content areas; no ASL support for any grades

      • Phase 3 – {TBD, based on vendor production capacity}: ASL accommodation in all grades and content areas

In short, the SBAC Practice Test is up and running and will be available from now until Spring 2014. Only accommodations listed above are available for now, but Smarter Balanced will continue to work on the Practice Test adding some new features in the Fall. The Practice Test is not the full official version, it will not be adaptive, nor graded, no registration is required, and it is free for anyone to try out! Go, try it, and give your feedback to everyone, SBAC, your local school districts and Department of Education, and your State Representatives!!

Remember the best way to STOP Common Core is to spread the word and sign the petition. In Washington State go here: https://stopcommoncorewa.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/petition-to-stop-common-core-in-wa-state/


(1) http://www.smarterbalanced.org/pilot-test/

Is your school taking the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test? What is it and how to opt out


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 … Continue reading