Smarter Balanced Field Test Shows Positive Tech Results

image credit: Peterborough Public Library, Ontario Canada

A field test of the Smarter Balanced assessment this spring showed good results when it came to state and school district’s technology preparedness.

Twenty-one governing states and the Virgin Islands participated in the Smarter Balanced field test that ran from March 25 to June 6, and five of them tested most or all of their students: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Montana and South Dakota. While Idaho had been using online testing as part of its accountability program, the other four states were transitioning from paper and pencil to computer-based tests. And while they did hit a few speed bumps, everything went extremely well, said Joe Willhoft, Smarter Balanced executive director.

By the end of May, 4.2 million students completed English and math assessments in third- through eighth-grade and eleventh-grade. While the results of the test will not be released, the consortium is analyzing them to make sure the test items are fair, valid and reliable.

This was really a test of the exam, bandwidth and school procedures. With 16,549 schools participating, the consortium’s highest number of simultaneous users was about 184,000, and the consortium had enough capacity to handle them.

During this field test, Smarter Balanced learned a number of lessons. The consortium has an open-source test delivery platform that they’re developing, and it had a few glitches because of the volume of testing. They’ll be working on those glitches, and at the end of the year will release the platform to states to use with their testing providers.

The test administration manual was too dense, overly detailed and text-heavy in some places, so they’ll be revising it so states can have it before the beginning of the next school year. And some test directions to students also need to be improved and made clearer, especially for students who are learning English.

Between now and September, the consortium will give teachers a preview of a digital library with more than 500 Common Core and assessment resources. They’ll be able to rate and discuss each resource.

Then in October and November, an online panel of up to 250,000 educators and an in-person workshop panel of 500 people will make achievement level recommendations to figure out how well students in each grade have to do on the test in order to achieve a certain level.

Read the entire article by Tonya Roscoria on the Center for Digital Education at

This entry was posted in Articles/Reports, Common Core State Standards, Smarter Balanced Assessments, Teaching and Learning and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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