15 Feb

History of the SBAC and How it Rose to a Nationwide Movement

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was created in 2010 with the aim of producing a universal assessment system to help students be well prepared for college and careers. The creation of the tests aimed to produce a vigorous assessment of the new, challenging common core state standards (CCSS) and help educators and school districts align teaching to these new standards. The SBAC originally consisted of a consortium of 30 states that submitted a proposal for a $178m federal grant to develop a new, groundbreaking series of tests for students. In 2014 the federal grant came to an end and the SBAC was transferred to UCLA and became a public agency.

 

The SBAC is funded by the memberships of the 16 states, that currently offer the tests, and all tests have been available for students to take since April 2015. Testing costs around $28 per student for the full package of resources and although it can cost states a significant amount of money to introduce, the resources that are included can actually end up saving money and time for educators. Around 220 colleges nationwide accept the high school summative SBAC tests as evidence for college readiness for credit level courses.

 

The progressive tests were created using a dynamic process of field-testing and in Spring 2014, 4.2 million students took the first field tests which facilitated the evaluation of over 19,000 assessment items. This allowed for the first set of achievement standards to be set, which were a starting point for discussion about achievement standards across the states that took part and as a baseline measure for the future.

 

The SBAC is designed to be a valid and reliable approach to student assessment, providing actionable data to provide interventions to help students succeed. For states offering the tests, the SBAC provides three components developed by nearly 5000 teachers nationwide:

 

  • Formative and practice assessments with a digital library of resources for students and educators.
  • Interim assessments
  • Summative assessments towards college and career readiness in English, Language Arts and Math

 

The SBAC summative tests are available for students in grade 3-8th and high school and are all administered via an interactive online platform. The tests take between 2.5 – 4 hours for each component and are either marked digitally or by qualified professional scorers. The marks for each assessment are available in 2-3 weeks for parents, educators and students. Each student receives a result of 1,2,3 or 4 on each test with 1 representing a student who is minimally qualified and 4 a student who is thoroughly qualified.

 

The movement towards rigorous and valid assessment helps both states and the nation ensure that students are leaving high school with a diploma that prepares them for adult life. The SBAC provides a way to ensure that every student succeeds and every school district is accountable for that because of the tests.

 

14 Apr

West Virginia Drops the Common Core

Back on June 2, 2010, West Virginia joined the ever growing list of states that would promise to adopt the newly proposed Common Core standards by the 2014-15 school year. They became further involved by joining the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. This group of state representatives were tasked with developing the national assessment that would then test students based on their grasp of these new standards. As of today, West Virginia is pulling out of the Core.

 

Climate Change

Unlike the vast majority of other states that backed out of the Common Core for fear of federal overreach, West Virginia was more concerned about the Core’s effect of the minds of the children in terms of climate change. As a state, West Virginia is an enormous supplier of the nation’s energy. This a huge part of their economy, hence why the Core became a problem with it demanded teachers teach students about climate change in a certain light.

This sore spot is what broke the camel’s back, so to speak. In February of this year, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to go over the standards yet again and to remove any of the strategies that required instructional methods. With the work already in progress, it has been mandated to be finished by October and ready to implement in the 2017-18 school year.

Interestingly enough, though, the Core was actually repealed in 2015. After further examination, many found that last year’s repeal was in name alone as many of the core tenets still remained. This current year’s bill is there to erase those points that seem too close to the original set of standards. Yet, with this third change to classroom objectives in only seven years, the educators are finding it hard to believe these changes are actually for the good of their students.

 

Upset Testing

To further drive away the Core from West Virginia, the test given that was aligned with the Core proved to be less than stellar. According to results from all grade levels, only fifth graders proved to be proficient in either math or English. For all students, only 51% tested acceptable in English while a shocking 30% were so in math. To add insult to injury, West Virginia’s students performed worse than all other states that took the exam and released their results.

However, instead of blaming the Core, the Board of Education took responsibility for failing their high schoolers, addressing the fact that the state has not done all it could to prepare them for life in college and beyond. That being said, it didn’t go without some finger pointing as a few schools were singled out for not taking the test seriously.

All the same, there is still no word as to whether West Virginia will continue on with this Core aligned test now that the Core is no more in West Virginia.