Smarter Balanced Begins Field Test

Today, the 22 member states of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) began administering a field test of the assessment in schools. The Smarter Balanced Field Test is a practice run that allows teachers and students to gain experience with computerized assessments aligned to the Common Core before they are implemented in spring 2015.

From today until June 6, third- through eighth-graders as well as 11th-graders will take the field test. A small number of ninth and 10th graders will also participate. The field test includes the same types of items and performance tasks that students will experience in the 2014-2015 school year. The online testing platform provides a suite of accessibility tools for all students as well as accommodations — such as Braille — to ensure that students with special needs can participate. While the test is untimed, each subject area is expected to take 2.5 to 4 hours to complete. Schools may administer the test over multiple days.

Joe Willhoft, executive director of Smarter Balanced, said, “Smarter Balanced is committed to helping teachers and students prepare for new assessments aligned to the Common Core, and the field test is an essential part of getting implementation right.” He added that the test includes “more than 20,000 assessment items and performance tasks, which will be evaluated to ensure they contribute to a valid, reliable and fair assessment of student achievement.”

The field test is one of the final steps in a multiyear development process. In 2012, Smarter Balanced conducted more than 900 cognitive labs around the country, gaining feedback on item types, the test interface and accessibility features. Small-scale trials conducted in more than 500 schools in 23 states also provided information for the development of the assessment system. In 2013, the Consortium conducted a pilot test of preliminary test questions and performance tasks with 650,000 students in nearly 5,000 schools.

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is editor in chief of THE Journal.

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