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Friday, February 14, 2014

Piloting Smarter Balanced in California in Spring 2014

I was asked recently by some colleagues for details about California's piloting of the Smarter Balanced assessment in spring 2014 and thought others might find the information I compiled helpful.  Feel free to add comments/clarifications.  And if you spot any outright misstatements, certainly let me know!

As best I understand it, the Field Test in California in spring 2014 will be only computer-based and non-adaptive (each student gets a fixed set of items) for the purpose of testing out item validity and reliability.  From the 2015-16 school year, the online assessments will be adaptive (with a student’s response on one item determining what item they get next). Also, from 2015-16 for a total of three years there will be a paper-based version of the assessment (non-adaptive with scores somehow equated to the online, adaptive tests) for schools that lack the technology to conduct the test online.  There is a Technology Readiness Tool each district is supposed to use to gauge their capacity to support students’ access to the assessments: 

Students will either use computers with a mouse or other point-and-click device OR a tablet device with touchscreen. Each device must have the Smarter Balanced secure browser installed to be used for testing.  Specific technology requirements are found here (along with other field test information).

Students are permitted to have access to certain tools, both embedded within the secure browser, and non-embedded.  This includes scratch paper on which to do mathematical work and, from grade 6, graph paper.  Any scratch work is to be discarded after the test and is not used for scoring purposes.  The full list of tools is here but note each state may make modifications to this.

This Politico storyfrom Dec 2013 details some of the challenges with online assessments.  And this interactive graphic tells the story of Indiana’s experience with online tests last spring (led by McGraw Hill, not Pearson as in CA).