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Understanding California Smarter Balanced testing

FRIDAY, JANUARY 08, 2016 10:34 AM

California students in grades 3-8 and 11 take English language arts and math tests called the California Smarter Balanced Assessment System. To learn more about these standardized tests, read on:

What is the SBAS?
The state's testing, formerly known as STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting), includes summative assessments that are a part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System. It also involves interim assessments which show how students are doing in Common Core State Standards subjects, English language arts and math. Each student will take the tests on a computer that has a secure browser to ensure the tests are not tampered with in any way. 

The creation of the standards?
According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Smarter Balanced Governing States approved a design for a three-phase achievement level setting. This included an online panel, an in-person panel and a cross-grade review committee. These groups consisted of California chief education officials, state-nominated participants and other people who have interest in the standards. Teachers and individuals involved in higher education also took part in the online panel. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium then applied all the feedback from the above gatherings and created the SBAS.

Understanding SBAS scores
The California Department of Education noted that these tests will help students better prepare for post-secondary education and their future careers. Using these tests also provides a way for districts to gain insight into their educators' teaching successes and what they need to work on. Both students and teachers will be accountable for their learning and education with the implementation of SBAS. The scores help monitor student progress and promote improved teaching. 

The tests measure critical thinking, subject matter knowledge, problem-solving skills and analytical writing. Taking these tests at an early age in grades 3-8 allows teachers to assess student learning and adjust their curricula to make sure their classes are prepared to move to the next grade level and learn on par with other students statewide. Each student may spend 7-8 hours per year working on these tests, and their scores will directly affect the many more hours of studying, in-school work and assignments they complete.

To help your children or students prepare for the SBAS, visit the practice test page. If you are a California teacher, visit the digital library to gain access to resources to prepare yourself and your students for the SBAS tests.