Educators to Guide Department during Field Test

By Luci Willits

Right now, many of you are in the midst of the Smarter Balanced Field Test.

As you know, Idaho is transitioning to the new Smarter Balanced Assessment that is aligned to the higher Idaho Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts. We recognize that the transition to a new test always takes time. In this case, Idaho has planned to phase in the new Smarter Balanced Assessment over three years. In Spring 2013, the state piloted the test in 124 schools. This spring, the state is field testing the new assessment in all of Idaho?s public schools. Next year, the test will be fully implemented and scores will be given.

The goal of the Field Test this spring is to ?test the test? to ensure the questions are fair, valid and reliable. In addition, the Field Test gives all Idaho?s public schools the opportunity to evaluate their technology and logistics at the local level before the test becomes fully operational next spring.

Because of this, we want to make sure we get your feedback on the Field Test. All information related to the validity and reliability of test questions will go directly to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. However, we need you to provide us with meaningful feedback on technology, logistics and other information related to the administration of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment. Based on your feedback, we can work together to make this assessment a success in Spring 2015 when it is fully implemented in all public schools, and scores are given.

To accomplish this, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna appointed a committee of educators to work with the Idaho State Department of Education before, during and after the administration of the Smarter Balanced Field Test this spring. Specifically, this committee is tasked with identifying any challenges during the Field Test and then finding solutions before the test is fully implemented next year.

This group, known as the Smarter Balanced Advisory Committee, has representation from key stakeholder groups in each region of the state:

  • 6 Superintendents,
  • 6 Principals,
  • 3 Test Coordinators,
  • 3 Classroom Teachers
  • 1 Special Education Director, and
  • 1 Technology Director.

Superintendent Luna selected members of the committee because they are leaders in the Idaho Association of School Administrators or are school administrators who have been heavily involved in the development of Smarter Balanced Assessment. The Idaho Education Association appointed the classroom teachers to serve on this committee.

The committee already met twice before the Field Test began, and they plan to meet again during the Field Test and after the testing window ends.

After its initial meetings, the committee established a central e-mail address in which any educator across Idaho can submit feedback throughout the Field Test window.

In addition, the committee members developed several surveys that the State Department of Education will use during the Field Test window to collect feedback from students, teachers, test proctors, and school administrators. The information from these surveys will help inform the committee?s work going forward.

Here is how you can assist us during the Field Test window:

  • If you have feedback to providIf you have feedback to provide, please e-mail the Smarter Balanced Advisory Committee at SmarterBalancedAdvisoryCommittee@sde.idaho.gov and be specific. We also would love to hear your suggested solutions.
  • Please touch base with your superintendent or principal to make sure they received copies of the surveys from the Department.
  • Find out who your regional representative is on the Smarter Balanced Advisory Committee and send them feedback! A full list of the Committee members is posted online.

If you have any questions about the Smarter Balanced Field Test, please contact Assessment Director TJ Bliss at tjbliss@sde.idaho.gov or Assessment Coordinator Angela Hemingway at ahemingway@sde.idaho.gov.