News

Smarter Balanced tests demand more of students

Susan Parrish, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.
February 18th, 2015

“The challenge is the level of rigor,” says one district’s deputy Superintendent

sbac-testsThis spring, students throughout Clark County and across Washington will take a new standardized test called the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Eleventh-graders and students in third through eighth grade will take the new math and English language arts tests aligned to the Washington State Learning Standards.

It’s not a pencil-and-paper test, but an online test. That in itself isn’t new. Students have been taking state tests online for some time.

What’s new is that it’s an adaptive online test. That means if the student answers a question correctly, the computer gives the student a more challenging question.

What’s also new is that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a tougher test.

“The challenge is the level of rigor,” said John Steach, deputy superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools.

A deeper level of thinking is required of the student, he said. Rather than just answer the question, students will be asked to explain how they arrived at the answer and cite contextual evidence, Steach said.

“It’s really about depth of knowledge, including the students’ ability to translate learning to new situations,” explained Layne Stampfli, director of curriculum and instruction for Vancouver Public Schools.

Next page: How educators are preparing