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Smarter Balanced Releases Practice Common Core Tests

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has released practice versions of its online tests for Common Core State Standards in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11.

Smarter Balanced is one of two state consortia developing assessments around Common Core standards. The formal online assessments will begin in the 2014-2015 school year.

The practice tests cover both mathematics and English language arts and were developed out of a 5,000-school pilot program involving schools in all 21 of the consortium's governing states. The pilot took place Feb. 20 through May 24 of this year.

The tests are not, however, complete. According to Smarter Balanced: "The Practice Tests do not include all the features of the operational assessments. For example, students and teachers will not receive reports or scores from the Practice Tests. Although Smarter Balanced assessments will be computer adaptive, the Practice Tests follow a fixed-form model. By fall 2013, Smarter Balanced will make enhancements to the Practice Tests, including the addition of performance tasks in mathematics, new accommodations for students with disabilities, and scoring rubrics."

According to Smarter Balanced Executive Director Joe Willhoft, "The release of online Practice Tests reflects the tremendous progress of the state-led effort to develop next-generation assessments. Available nearly two years before the first administration of the summative assessment, these examples offer schools and districts another resource for professional development and outreach."

"The Practice Tests allow teachers and students to experience the higher level of rigor associated with Common Core tests and gain familiarity with the online test delivery system," said Deborah Sigman, Smarter Balanced executive committee co-chair and deputy superintendent of public instruction for the California Department of Education, in a prepared statement. "Member states are making these example test questions available as part of our commitment to a balanced assessment system that provides high-quality information to improve teaching and learning."

Development of the tests will continue through summer of 2014, Smarter Balanced reported.

The practice tests are available now and can be taken immediately. The tests and various requirements and FAQs can be accessed at Smart Balanced pilot test portal; the tests can be accessed directly (as a guest) using the student interface at

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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