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SBAC Governing States Advance Development of Common Core Assessment System

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium this week held its second semi-annual Collaboration Conference about the design and implementation of an assessment system that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards in math and English literacy. The conference, which involved K-12 state leaders, higher education leaders, work groups, and contractors from the consortium's 21 governing states, included a two-hour public meeting to discuss the development of achievement level descriptors (ALDs), a sampling plan for the pilot test, and an approach to sustainability planning, as well as other issues.

Achievement level descriptors are standardized statements that describe how well students are performing on the Smarter Balanced assessments. At the public meeting on Wednesday, representatives from the Smarter Balanced governing states approved the process for developing preliminary ALDs. They also nominated the K-12 teachers and higher education faculty who will develop the ALDs this fall. Draft versions of the ALDs will be available for public feedback and comment later this year and will be finalized by next March.

The governing states also voted to create an organizational plan in partnership with the Council of Chief State Schools Officers (CCSSO), subject to the acquisition of funding. Smarter Balanced receives grant funding through the Race to the Top Assessment Program, but that funding will end in September 2014. The organizational plan to be developed with the CCSSO will provide a roadmap for Smarter Balanced after that grant program ends.

The governing states also discussed the sampling plan for the assessment system pilot test, which will take place early in 2013, and they approved a plan to sample an equal percentage of students from each of the governing states. The pilot test will include more than 10,000 items and performance tasks and analyze results from a sample of approximately 2 million students from all of the governing states to determine how well the items and tasks perform in a real-world setting.

"Smarter Balanced member states are working collaboratively to develop a next-generation assessment system that meets their needs and provides actionable information throughout the year to improve teaching and learning," said Carissa Miller, Smarter Balanced executive committee co-chair and deputy superintendent in the Idaho State Department of Education, in a prepared statement. "The actions taken by Governing States reflect our consensus-based decision-making process and will ensure that progress continues toward the implementation of the assessment system in the 2014-15 school year."

The next Smarter Balanced Collaboration Conference will take place in March 2013.

Further information is available on the Smarter Balanced site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].