What's on the Test?-The Smarter-Balanced Assessment Consortium [SBAC]

In 2010, Idaho joined this consortium of 29 states that is charged with creating the next generation of assessments dedicated to fulfilling all the aims of the CCSS. The target date for implementation is spring of 2015 when the new assessment will replace the current ISAT test for students in grades 3-8 and 11. Additionally, discussion is underway to provide bridge assessments at grades 9 and 10. Taking an evidenced based approach, the SBAC assessments will encompass all the guiding principles of the common core. For example, authentic writing [performance tasks] based on analysis of complex stimuli from all media will be in place at every tested grade, with oral presentation at several grade levels as well. This alone marks a sea change when compared to the current ISAT test which consists entirely of multiple choice items. In addition, multiple item types such as short and longer constructed response, technology enhanced items [drag and click, hot spots], and a fully computer adapted test engine will allow for a more three dimensional picture of student achievement.

As part of the consortium, Idaho educators will have access to a number of resources such as formative tools beginning in fall 2012, and interim items banks and learning progressions with embedded assessment items for all items types in 2013-14. These resources will make clear exactly what the test will look like and clearly delineate the expectations for each grade and content area. Some model items are currently available in the content specifications document that details the overarching structure of the assessment.

Smarter Balanced Link Link.

From the Content Specifications, here are the 5 core characteristics that inform the test development process through all its phases:

The proposed SBAC ELA & literacy assessments and the assessment system are shaped by a set of characteristics shared by the systems of high-achieving nations and states, and include the following principles (Darling-Hammond, 2010):

1) Assessments are grounded in a thoughtful, standards-based curriculum and are managed as part of an integrated system of standards, curriculum, assessment, instruction, and teacher development. Together, they guide teaching decisions, classroom-based assessment, and external assessment.

2) Assessments include evidence of student performance on challenging tasks that evaluate Common Core Standards of 21st century learning. Instruction and assessments seek to teach and evaluate knowledge and skills that generalize and can transfer to higher education and multiple work domains. They emphasize deep knowledge of core concepts and ideas within and across the disciplines, along with analysis, synthesis, problem solving, communication, and critical thinking. This kind of learning and teaching requires a focus on complex performances as well as the testing of specific concepts, facts, and skills.

3) Teachers are integrally involved in the development and scoring of assessments. While many assessment components can and will be efficiently and effectively scored with computer assistance, teachers will also be involved in the interim/benchmark, formative, and summative assessment systems so that they deeply understand and can teach the standards.

4) Assessments are structured to continuously improve teaching and learning. Assessment as, of, and for learning is designed to develop understanding of what learning standards are, what high-quality work looks like, what growth is occurring, and what is needed for student learning. This includes:

  • Developing assessments in a manner that allows teachers to see what students know and can do on multiple dimensions of learning and to strategically support their progress;
  • Using computer-based technologies to adapt assessments to student levels to more effectively measure what they know, so that teachers can target instruction more carefully and can evaluate growth over time;
  • Creating opportunities for students and teachers to get feedback on student learning throughout the school year, in forms that are actionable for improving success;
  • Providing curriculum-embedded assessments that offer models of good curriculum and assessment practice, enhance curriculum equity within and across schools, and allow teachers to see and evaluate student learning in ways that can feed back into instructional and curriculum decisions; and
  • Allowing close examination of student work and moderated teacher scoring as sources of ongoing professional development.

5) Assessment, reporting, and accountability systems provide useful information on multiple measures that is educative for all stakeholders. Reporting of assessment results is timely, specific, and vivid-offering specific information about areas of performance and examples of student responses along with illustrative benchmarks, so that teachers and students can follow up with targeted instruction. Multiple assessment opportunities (formative and interim/benchmark, as well as summative) offer ongoing information about learning and improvement. Reports to stakeholders beyond the school provide specific data, examples, and illustrations so that administrators and policymakers can more fully understand what students know in order to guide curriculum and professional development decisions.

Sample items are found in at this Smarter Balanced Link Link.

For examples of the type of complex performance tasks being designed, visit the New York Regents site for released tests and view the Comprehensive ELA Test for high school, a test where students complete several rich and challenging performance pieces: Click Here Link.

One bedrock principle of SBAC is the importance of involving teachers in every aspect of the test development process. Therefore, SBAC will develop a system of professional development focused on assessment literacy. To support curricular goals, including expected learning progressions, the Consortium will develop formative assessment tools related to curriculum and lesson development, as well as scoring and examination of student work. Because a key element of SBAC's professional learning approach for educators is to engage teachers directly in developing and scoring SBAC assessments, teachers and administrators will be asked to contribute to the item and performance event banks and participate in the moderated scoring process.

For more information on SBAC, please visit the following website: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/ Link

Sample Items and Performance Tasks
Smarter Balanced Releases Sample Assessment Items and Performance Tasks Link
PDF Icon Smarter Balanced Sample Items FAQ
Video State Department of Education webinar on Sample Items and Performance Tasks, October 10, 2012 [69.6 MB]
Powerpoint Icon Smarter Balanced Sample Items Template Presentation 10-10-12
Powerpoint Icon Thumbnail Comparison of ISAT Test Design with SBAC Final 2-20-13