High-Stakes Testing | News

Smarter Balanced Postpones Common Core Field Test

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is pushing back the planned field test of its Common Core assessments, which had been scheduled to kick off Tuesday. The field test is now set to commence next week.

In a statement sent out to the press today, SBAC announced: "Yesterday, the leadership of the consortium decided that in order to ensure that all steps are taken to ensure a successful launch of the upcoming Field Test, we would need to shift the start of the testing window by one week, from Tuesday, March 18 to Tuesday, March 25."

Though SBAC has said the test will be delivered to 3 million students in all 22 SBAC governing states, the final tally is likely to be much higher. Five states, including California, are planning to give the field test to all students who fall within the grade levels covered by the test. (There are more than 6 million total K-12 students in California alone.) The test is being administered to students in grades 3–8 and 11, plus "a sampling" of students in grades 9 and 10. The test covers math and English/language arts and is expected to take two-and-a-half to five hours to complete.

The field tests are designed for two purposes:

  • To evaluate the performance, reliability and validity of the assessment system and the 20,000 test items that will be delivered; and
  • To give teachers and students a chance to experience the assessments before the full implementation next year.

The tests will not be timed, and no scores from the field tests will be reported.

In a meeting with reporters earlier this week, SBAC representatives stressed that no individual student data resulting from the field test or the live tests would be released at any time to the federal government. They also stressed that data would not be sold to third parties. With state approval, some third parties, such as researchers, might be able to use the data in their work; that will be up to individual states to decide. Further, they said, "Smarter Balanced will not require states to report student names or dates of birth."

For those interested in trying out the tests themselves, sample questions can be found on SBAC's site in English/language arts and mathematics. Flash is used in some of the sample items.

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 dnagel@1105media.com. 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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