Friday, March 14, 2014

Smarter Balance (Common Core) Pilot Testing Cancelled at Ballard; Who Else?

Update: well, this is interesting.  So SPS is not going to field test any students in grades 3-10.  The only schools that were participating were Ballard and Roosevelt.  Ballard has bowed out for 11th grade and that leaves Roosevelt testing some 11th grades in the math test.  It's a bit confusing because we here at the blog know - from reading newsletters at Hale - that Hale wanted their students to take this test but maybe Hale was trying to test the waters (pun intended) .  So we have just one high school field-testing the Smarter Balance math test.

End of update.

It's a busy education news day but this is important news.

The testing consortium for Common Core assessments that Washington State belongs to -Smarter Balance - announced today that they need a one-week delay for the field test. The testing window was to start on Tuesday, the 18th.

I have not found out yet how many Seattle schools were participating (I only knew of Hale and Ballard) but the district was asked by OSPI to have some schools, in grades 3-8 and, for high school, in grade 9.10 and 111.  Participation was supposed to be a school/district decision.  According to OSPI:

Washington needs about 20% of our 11th graders and about 5% each of our 9th and 10th graders to be part of the field test. Since many 11th graders have already completed the state’s assessment requirements, double testing will not be an issue. 

Each state is being requested to involve about 10% of 3rd–8th graders, about 20% of 11th graders, and about 5% each of 9th and 10th graders. 

For scheduling purposes, participating schools should plan for approximately 3.5 hours of testing per grade and content area. Testing is intended to be administered over multiple sessions of about 45 minutes each, but may be administered in shorter or longer session as appropriate for the students and the school. The field tests will approximate the length of the 2015 operational assessments.
There are no paper/pencil tests available for the field tests.

The Consortium has "assured" schools that everything will be ready by March 25th. 

This throws schools that have carefully planned their schedules around this into a bit of chaos.  It seems VERY last minute.  But schools can reschedule up to June 6th but, by then, there are EOC tests to be taken.  

Ballard High principal, Kevin Wynkoop has made the decision that the 11th graders at his school will not be participating at all.

What is interesting is that parents in states using the other consortium - PARCC - are thinking of opting out of the field tests entirely (which is what I think Seattle Schools parents should be doing).  


Jamie said...

Interesting. I sent an email opting my 11th grader out at Ballard. Perhaps I wasn't the only one...

Disgusted said...

Our children are being used as guinea pigs. Pilot tests should have been done BEFORE the state rolled out this initiative- which is doomed to fail.

Do you know the costs? I know one district, in another state, spent $500K for the honor of testing the test.

At this point, our district can not afford to pay for pilot tests.

Kathy said...

It is interesting to note that California received a waiver and 3.5 million children will pilot common core tests. Test results will not be made public???

Gate's Experiment said...

80,000 Mass. students expected to pilot CC. Students will sit through TWO standardized tests.

Will Gates have his children do the same?

Anonymous said...

A few elem. schools have been doing benchmark assessment test - but not all elem's, just some. It's a common core "test" too. Apparently only 85,000 students in the whole state take it - so I count that as a guinea pig too.

Here's the link to the "benchmark assessments" page at OSPI. It's edu-gak reading, and there don't seem to be any actual EXAMPLES of test questions of style of test on the web page, so it's impossible to assess whether the test is actually ... you know ... well-written.

If you read through many of the links at the OSPI site, you'll see the cost (vaguely referred to) and the way the data is presented, (very colorful! lots of charts!) and lots of train the trainer and if your district commits early "we" (which isn't OSPI, but is the test provider) can help you understand all the lovely data you can collect and measure.

I found it to be creepy - the kids are sort of just data packages, nothing more - especially b/c if you try to go to the pages that are the spreadsheets of what's tested by grade, it doesn't actually say anything like "4 grade reading: parts of speech, irregular verbs, blah blah". No actual lists of test material or examples.

The only stuff I could find was all high level jargon, not one concrete "this is what will be tested at each level".

Signed: trying

Disgusted said...

It seems difficult for teachers to see Common Core test questions. What is the big secret?

seattle citizen said...

Disgusted: There are no "Common Core test questions", strictly speaking.

Common Core is the set of standards. Two companies, Parc and Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (WA's choice) design tests that purportedly test the Common Core standards.

So yes, there are questions BASED on Common Core (purportedly) but they are not products of the Common Core group.

You can see the Common Core standards; they are easily looked up.

You can see some few SBAC sample questions:

seattle citizen said...

oops, can't hyperlind, forgot how :)
Smarter Balanced Assessments:

ben said...

I vaguely remember that the field test results were not going to be released to anyone including the parents of the test takers. Does that sound right?

FWIW: I was reading a thread about the 4th graders at Lincoln participating in the trials (which really makes no sense if you're trying to calibrate a test)


Anonymous said...

Smarter Balanced and PARCC are not testing companies per se but rather non-profit organizations that have formed consortia of states to come together to development and design the Common Core assessments. They have provided contracts to testing companies to do much of the development and design. After this school year, states will pay membership dues to the consortia to have access to the assessments. States will, though, continue to have contracts directly with testing companies to provide support for the consortia assessments and to administer assessments that the consortia will not provide.

This school year, in a couple of weeks, Smarter Balanced with conduct FIELD TESTS in their member states. PILOT TESTS were conducted last school year. The purpose of field testing to to try out test items with students. Those items that are determined to be good items will be put in an item bank for use on future OPERATIONAL tests. Bad items will be dumped. This year the Smarter Balanced field test is a 'stand-alone' field test --- meaning the students will be administered only field test items. In the future, Smarter Balanced will conduct 'embedded' field tests --- meaning field test items will be included in the operational tests. In other words, each test a student takes will include 5-8 items that will be scored but not included in the student's score.

The reason the field test results are not being returned is that the scores will not be scaled and there will not be a total score. The purpose of the field test is not to test students per se but rather to finalize items for future operational tests. The purpose is to find out if the items are too difficult/easy, biased in regard to student demographics, valid and reliable, etc. ALL of the items are owned by the consortia, not the testing companies. In other words, the testing companies cannot use or sell this items to other states in any way.

In Washington (aside from computer/technology costs, etc.), the state is covering the costs of the field tests. Districts do not have to pay a fee to administer the field tests.

The field test items and definitely the operational/final items to be used on the operational tests cannot be publicly released. If the test questions were made public prior to their appearance on a test, the results of the test would be invalidated. All test items are secure and unavailable for viewing by schools, districts, and the public. Both Smarter Balanced and PARCC has released sample items and practice tests. For those interested in the types of items and the rigor of items at specific grade levels, the sample items and practice tests would give some information.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

That's all good info, SWK, but is seems that the field tests are not really going to be happening in SPS.

Anonymous said...

As a college student, I used to field test questions for a VERY large standardized test provider.

They paid me $50 per test (about 2 - 3 hours, if I recall). Cash.

Are the testing companies paying SPS? Field testing is a VALUABLE commodity.

Melissa - can you find out if SPS is receiving money per student to field test? And if so, where is that money going? It should be going directly to the schools that are taking the test, not into JSCEE or into an initiative. If SPS is NOT getting paid to field test, then they're getting ripped off.

I'm not saying it's right, or a fair or wise use of student time -- but doing it for free (or worse, paying them!) is WRONG.

Anonymous said...

OOPS forgot to sign about being paid to field test:

Sign the above comment with:


Po3 said...

"Districts do not have to pay a fee to administer the field tests."

Field tests do have a cost - valuable learning time spent sitting in front of computers taking the test.

Three is no such thing as a free lunch and I am happy SPS backed out, for whatever reason.

Going forward, am having a hard time taking this test seriously as it seems like it's just the next shiny coin replacing the current, slightly dulled coin (MSP/HSPE/EOC) we JUST got fully implemented.

Anonymous said...

Trying, it appears that no SPS schools will be field testing the Smarter Balanced field test. See Melissa's update to this thread and her comment above.

With that said, I can tell you that NO ONE is being paid to field test the Smarter Balanced tests nor has anyone been paid to field test the WASL, MSP, HSPE, or EOCs. Field testing has been occurring as a component of the state tests since the beginning.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, what I said was "not really happening." I believe Roosevelt is still on-board with math testing (but I have to confirm that yet again).

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa, for correcting my statement. I missed Roosevelt despite the fact that you clearly stated that in your update to thread.

On a related note, I read in a ST piece last night that the SPS elementary schools are not giving the Smarter Balanced field tests because they have to give the MSP. The reason: SPS is required to use state test scores in teacher evaluation and they didn't want their elementary schools double testing.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Lincoln is giving the smarter balanced field test to elementary kids. I'm opting mine out for the same reason those other schools are avoiding it-just too many tests.


Guinea Pigs said...

Washington State had many schools piloting Smarter Balanced because schools wanted to get a look at the questions.

I'm understanding that SBA will "test" 20,000 questions and unlikely all students will get the same test.

Parents and schools will not have access to test results. It is possible that OSPI might be given test results.

Anonymous said...

Guinea Pigs, all students will not get the same test.

Not even OSPI will get the test results.

--- swk

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