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Understanding Hawaii Smarter Balanced Assessment

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2016 11:01 AM

The Hawaii State Department of Education shared that area students in 3rd through 8th and 11th grades are required to take the Smarter Balanced Assessments. These tests show schools and parents if kids are ready to advance to the next grade and then postsecondary education.

Smarter Balanced Assessment
Here are some facts about the exams:

  • The SBA includes math as well as English language arts and literacy.
  • Hawaii, joining 18 other states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is helping create a new Common Core-aligned assessment system as part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
  • The new testing began in spring 2015.
  • Instead of simply providing questions and multiple-choice answers, SBA asks students to go deeper into the topics at hand. They may come across more challenging questions with written answers and will potentially need to take notes or use calculators on the math portions where the devices are allowed.
  • Students who attend immersion schools and learn in the Hawaiian language may not have to take the SBA if the U.S. Department of Education has waived their mandatory attendance.
  • The tests take place online and are adaptable, meaning the answers a student provides affect the next questions. This allows for schools to get a better sense of how much the kids know.
  • Kids must also do performance tasks as part of the SBA. These require responding to real-world problems. Teachers or test proctors typically score the performance part instead of the computer which grades the rest of the exam. Students learn about these tasks beforehand during a classroom activity that lays out the context of this portion of the SBA.

Preparation for the exams
If you want to offer your children some extra chances to get ready for the SBA, provide the opportunity to take practice exams. Many kids find it helpful to walk through parts of the test before the spring exams.