Just days before students in California and 21 other states were set to begin field-testing the new student assessment aligned with Common Core State Standards, the group developing the exam announced it’s being pushed back a week to ensure all systems are go.
Instead of launching March 18, and running through June 6, the pilot testing will now begin March 25, and states will be allowed to go through the week of June 7 if necessary, said Jacqueline King, spokeswoman for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
“No specific glitch or problem prompted us to shift the start date,” King said. “We learned from one of our contractors yesterday that we needed a few extra days to complete all the planned simulations to ensure that we had everything correctly in place for the field test.”
About 3 million California students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 will be taking the computer-based assessment, which will not be scored and will not be used to rank schools and students.
This year, the exam is a test of the test. Results will be used to judge the validity and quality of the test questions and to evaluate the capacity of each school’s Internet connection and computer equipment.
In order to avoid huge fines or penalties from the U.S. Department of Education, California is testing every student in grades 3 through 8 in both the math and English language arts sections of the test. One week ago, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan approved that plan and granted the state a waiver exempting it from the requirement of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly known as No Child Left Behind) to test students for accountability purposes.
Tina Jung, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Education, said the delay would have a small impact on the state’s schools and students because the testing period is split into windows to make sure that not every school is testing at the same time.
“So the only students who this really affects are those who not only were going to test in the first window, but the first week of the first window. The total number of students who are assigned the first window is 193,000—just less than 6 percent—and we don’t know how many of those were going to test in the first week. Either way, it’s a small fraction of the total,” Jung said.