Source: EdSource

Students at Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland taking computer based tests.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has finally released the “interim assessments” schools can use to gauge how well their students are doing in math and English language arts instruction aligned with the Common Core standards. Districts that are using the assessments will now have access through a secure browser on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress website (caaspp.org).

The assessments are optional tests schools can administer  in advance of the end-of-the year or “summative” Smarter Balanced assessments that students in grades 3 through 9 and the 11th grade will take this spring.

Initially, the consortium, charged with coming up with a range of Common Core aligned tests, was set to release the interim tests last fall. The timeline was then pushed back to December. Luci Willits, the consortium’s deputy executive director, told EdSource Today that the delay was related to the fact that teachers were not finished vetting the test questions until the end of October.

Test designers also had to respond to late requests by state officials and others about how to fine tune ways to score essay portions of the computer-based tests.

“Ideally, it would have been best to have the interim items available in the fall, but circumstances prohibited the rollout earlier,” Willis wrote.

Interim assessments are intended to give teachers feedback on how well their students are learning Common Core concepts. That information can help teachers tailor their instruction to the needs of individual students.

The Smarter Balanced consortium described the interim assessments as “one of the three major components” of its assessment system.

In addition to the annual “summative assessments” that students will take in the spring, teachers are also encouraged to use “formative assessment” tools and practices.  These are less structured classroom projects and exercises intended to give teachers – and parents and students – an idea of how students are doing in specific areas of math and English language arts. That information helps shape the instruction that students will receive throughout the years.

There are two types of interim assessments that are optional but recommended by the Smarter Balanced consortium  – the Interim Comprehensive Assessment and Interim Block Assessments. For more details on the interim assessments, go to the Smarter Balanced website here. 

 


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  1. Steve Dingledine 9 months ago9 months ago

    Hi, I teach in a PARCC state (well, DC). I haven’t found any interim tests available for PARCC. Would you
    happen to know if they exist? Please say yes!

    Best, Steve D

  2. Elizabeth Vann-Clark 1 year ago1 year ago

    Why is no one asking how much more money this is going to cost? District budgets have already been siphoned away towards expensive testing that doesn’t as to the educational process. Districts can’t afford to hire more teachers, reduce class sizes, hire much needed special education and ESL support, or purchase new and relavent technology.
    In my state, we lose an entire month of learning to testing and re-testing. How much learning time will be lost to these additional tests?

  3. Julia Sweeney 1 year ago1 year ago

    Glad to see there will be more options for students and teachers to gain familiarity with the test before the end of the year! I have been working with many teachers throughout the country to help train them in their transition to Common Core, SBAC, and PARCC. Many teachers just want to be able to show their students what to expect and help ease the nerves. The website I work for (www.edcite.com) also offers free … Read More

    Glad to see there will be more options for students and teachers to gain familiarity with the test before the end of the year! I have been working with many teachers throughout the country to help train them in their transition to Common Core, SBAC, and PARCC. Many teachers just want to be able to show their students what to expect and help ease the nerves. The website I work for (www.edcite.com) also offers free practice that is aligned to Common Core and uses questions that address the tech skills students will need for SBAC and PARCC. Certainly worth taking a look if you want to find, customize, or create more CCSS and SBAC aligned formative or summative assessments. Hopefully the more people that get involved with this conversation and the more resources that are available to all students and teachers, the smoother this transition can be!

    Replies

    • M Moore 1 year ago1 year ago

      I've looked into this and the teaching to the test is taking up to 8 wks for 3-8 and up to 12 wks for 11th graders...That means that when they return from Christmas break they have to stop all other work and only study to what may be on the test. How can you explain if the test is adaptive what these higher standards will bring to the big picture? So the test … Read More

      I’ve looked into this and the teaching to the test is taking up to 8 wks for 3-8 and up to 12 wks for 11th graders…That means that when they return from Christmas break they have to stop all other work and only study to what may be on the test. How can you explain if the test is adaptive what these higher standards will bring to the big picture? So the test will categorize a third grader for their entire school career? How can you explain the new grading system because if you don’t pan out to be a 1 you will be shoved aside. Please explain the Behavioral and Emotional Screening System and just how this will affect the child throughout their school career? Why won’t parents be allowed to see these reports as it states: Results contained herein are confidential, and should only be viewed by those with proper authorization. Why have parents been told it would cost them 1,000’s of dollars to get this report?
      Thank you for your time.

  4. Paul Muench 1 year ago1 year ago

    Interesting, teaching to the test can now be institutionalized. What is the extent of the formative assessment tools and practices? If teachers that make use of these tools and practices prove that their use leads to much improved student test scores, is this the lever for the Smarter Balanced consortium to take over classroom instruction? I didn't think this was the direction of Common Core, but what Smarter Balanced is doing sure … Read More

    Interesting, teaching to the test can now be institutionalized. What is the extent of the formative assessment tools and practices? If teachers that make use of these tools and practices prove that their use leads to much improved student test scores, is this the lever for the Smarter Balanced consortium to take over classroom instruction? I didn’t think this was the direction of Common Core, but what Smarter Balanced is doing sure doesn’t sound good. Are teachers happy about this?

    Replies

    • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

      Most (probably all) districts already give interim assessments (probably 3 or 4 a year). Unfortunately there is very little (no) visibility into their nature (who writes them, how they are validated, what their results mean), even though they are already often used for accountability (some SSCs, now LCAPs). In theory, having a single source would address some of those issues and I'd hope foster a discussion about whether interim results should be used for accountability … Read More

      Most (probably all) districts already give interim assessments (probably 3 or 4 a year). Unfortunately there is very little (no) visibility into their nature (who writes them, how they are validated, what their results mean), even though they are already often used for accountability (some SSCs, now LCAPs). In theory, having a single source would address some of those issues and I’d hope foster a discussion about whether interim results should be used for accountability in the first place.
      I think it would be natural for districts to believe interims from the same source as the summatives would lead to better summative results (SBAC even implies this if I’m not mistaken). That would obviously lead to all sorts of questions/concerns about overreach.

    • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

      I totally agree with Paul and Navigio -- particularly for the Interim Comprehensive Assessment version of the SB interim tests. These are clones of the SB summative tests that can be misused for extensive teaching-to-the-test programs, programs that degrade both good common core instruction efforts and credible common core assessment results. Districts and schools are prohibited from using test prep materials such as SB's ICAs by EC 60611, a provision that has been in place … Read More

      I totally agree with Paul and Navigio — particularly for the Interim Comprehensive Assessment version of the SB interim tests. These are clones of the SB summative tests that can be misused for extensive teaching-to-the-test programs, programs that degrade both good common core instruction efforts and credible common core assessment results. Districts and schools are prohibited from using test prep materials such as SB’s ICAs by EC 60611, a provision that has been in place for more than 15 years . . . . with the exception of practice test materials provided by the statewide assessment vendor and approved by the CDE. But, CAASPP regulations approved last summer also excepts SB interim tests as materials approved by the CDE. So, districts cannot use alternate vendor interim tests like SB’s ICAs per EC and regulations, but SB’s ICAs are legit for local district teaching-to-the-test programs. The result: a monopoly for SB’s ICAs to promote unethical teaching-to-the-test programs . . . . . go figure!!

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        Doug, the more I hear from you and others on the on-going issues surrounding SB and the CCSS implementation, the more I think the best option for my family is to simply opt out of SB. I have a 2-3 more months to decide.

  5. navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

    Cool! This will be interesting to watch. Some districts are using interim test results to measure LCAP proficiency progress. It will be interesting to see how the SBAC versions differ from those currently being used by districts, and whether these muck up those proficiency goals.

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