Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Seattle Schools Explains Smarter Balanced Testing

The district has quite a bit of information for parents on the new Smarter Balanced testing on this page.

It's great that the district has put up this information (I'm not sure how long it has been up - I saw this on Facebook via a reader).  But, there's a lot of ed lingo in there and I really wonder many parents will truly understand it all.   There is also a lot of language that is somewhat but not totally true.

For example:

These online assessments are designed to measure how well students are meeting new academic standards designed to better prepare them for college, career and life.

Maybe for community college but probably not many four-year colleges.  That should be made clear.

Or how about this:

Rigor: Students will not be able to rely as much on process-of-elimination to find an answer. The assessment includes some multiple choice with more than one answer as well as other demands for higher-level thinking.

I'm hoping that this "more than one answer" issue is being addressed by teachers.  I also think it worth having parents tell their kids that it might seem that there is more than one answer.  

Even the math assessment includes some short-answer writing. 


As you may recall, this was an issue on the WASL math as it seemed more about reading than math.  Let me know what your student says.  This disadvantages ELL students.


Interactive: More than just multiple-choice, students may be asked to drag-and-drop answers, complete a chart or highlight evidence.

Boy, your kid better know how to use a computer.

Remember that scoring shifts are normal whenever more rigorous academics and their assessments are introduced; teachers and students need time to adjust. Please know that this year’s scores will be viewed as a new baseline that will help our teachers (and families) measure future growth.

And teachers and school leaders will recalibrate their expectations.


All this to really say - don't be shocked by your student's score.  It might be lower than your expectations.  You might need to "recalibrate" that expectation and know that maybe it's the test rigor, not your kid. 

For this reason, most third-graders with a Level 1 score (out of four levels) on the English language arts assessment will be scheduled for a teacher conference before the end of the year. Because schools need those scores early in order to make time for the state-mandated conferences, third-graders will be the first to take the English language arts assessment.

FYI, for third grade parents.

Here's what the district says on refusal to take the test:
  • Students who do not participate will receive a "zero" score on the assessment and no score report for teachers or families to view.
  • A zero will negatively impact the school's overall results.
  • Teachers will not receive results that could be used as a tool to measure the student's academic growth.
  • Families will not receive results that will enable them to chart the student's growth over time.
  • High school juniors without assessment results will not be eligible for the remedial testing waiver offered by state colleges (see above).
  • Students who do not participate will receive supervision but not instruction during assessment time.
As to point one, I'm pretty sure your child's teacher knows how your student is doing.  They may not know how your child would do on this test but they know how your child is progressing.

As to point two, a zero only negatively impacts the school's overall results if there are a lot of them.  And, what does that really even mean?

As to point three, see my point one. 

As to point four, see my point one.  As well, you will be receiving results from all the OTHER testing done on your child.

As to point five, there are other things to do to avoid remedial classes in college. 

As to point six, well, the kids taking the test aren't receiving instruction, either. 

16 comments:

Sigh said...

GMMB was hired to create talking points regarding Common Core and Smarter Balanced tests. Here is one example:


http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/policy/2014/Austin-Communicating-Standards-and-Assessments.pdf

I'm disappointed in the district. I'm not seeing a lot of critical analysis.

"Rigor: Students will not be able to rely as much on process-of-elimination to find an answer. The assessment includes some multiple choice with more than one answer as well as other demands for higher-level thinking."

Translation: Let's really mess with the minds of eight year old children.

Teachers take classes to create tests. Part of testing is NOT to make children feel overwhelmed, but to help achieve a sense of mastery.

One should research child development and the need for mastery.

Anonymous said...

WA state has agreed to use SBAC for assessments. It follows that the district needs to encourage as many students as possible to take the tests. Are growth scores currently factored into teacher evaluations in SPS? Will a zero score be factored into the school rating, but not the teacher rating? Is there incentive for teachers to support opt-outs?

curious

Holy Cow!!! said...


BREAKING NEWS!

Director Peters and Director Patu have submitted a resolution to suspend administration of SBAC!

I hope we can get a thread on this issue!!

Here is the resolution:

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/14-15%20agendas/030415agenda/20150304_AssessmentsResolution_DRAFT.pdf

Anonymous said...

Somewhere downtown Corp Ed Reformers are a) peeing their pants, b)downing advil and c) reaching for a drink or d) pounding out nasty emails - or sand - at this very moment.

Doubt it will pass but good on Peters and Patu. At the least it will draw attention to the issue.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I suggest each parent take a practice SBAC with another person. Many of my parents did not agree on the answers in the ELA section. For that matter, teachers did not agree either.

http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test/

You hit the green box and then just click on “sign in,” no need to create an account. From there you choose your grade level and link to ELA or math.

SPS Teacher

Anonymous said...

Were Patu and Peters in my car this morning as my 5th grader was weeping about possibly failing the SBAC math test? "I am afraid that I might be one of the 68% who fail instead of the 32% who pass!"
Please, vote to spare my girl! Save her from fearing math!
-sadmom

Anonymous said...

Will Smarter Balanced be used for 6th grade math placement? Trying to figure out whether to opt my 4th grader out of the test.

--Consequences?

Eric M said...

Does anyone have a solid idea on how much SPS has very quietly spent on technology infrastructure and labor to support SBAC? It seems to be a well-kept secret. It's in the MILLIONS. Wireless networks, tavlets and Chromebooks, 30 or so new hires....

Lynn said...

Consequences,

I found info on 6th grade math placement on the Advanced Learning website.

Anonymous said...

Recent OSPI testing statistics place the 4th grade MSP score of 525 in the 97-98%ile range, and looks to be equivalent to missing at most 2 questions on the math MSP.

https://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/StateTesting/TestStatistics.aspx

-just fyi

Anonymous said...

Eric M,

Don't forget the enormous sums spent on training teachers to teach to the Common Core.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lynn, but the matrix for math placement you link to relies on 4th grade MSP results. Since this year's 4th graders won't take the MSP, I worry that they will use Smarter Balanced as a substitute. I am not clear what happens with math placement if I have opted my daughter out of the test.

--Consequences?

Anonymous said...

@Consequences, you are right, the math matrix will need to change for next year's 5th graders. Will they use SBAC? I doubt they have made that decision - my guess is they are waiting for results of SBAC. The current matrix was decided upon based on a correlation of 4th grade MSP scores and success in Algebra. 4th grade scores were used because 5th grade scores weren't available in time for placement decisions. With SBAC, which is computerized, is it possible they will move to using 5th grade SBAC scores, rather than 4th grade scores? SBAC scoring will potentially have a shorter turnaround time than MSP scoring. The added complication is not all schools administer MAP. Is the district's contract with NWEA expiring?

Here's my understanding: If your child is in APP@Lincoln, then the default math placement would be 8th grade math (CMP3) in 6th grade. Only if you anticipate your child wanting to accelerate to Algebra 1 in 6th grade (and they are currently in APP/HCC) would the math matrix criteria be of concern. If your child is not in HCC, but in Spectrum or at your neighborhood school, then the math placement matrix would allow for acceleration to the APP level math pathway or beyond.

-just fyi

Anonymous said...

Only if you anticipate your child wanting to accelerate to Algebra 1 in 6th grade (and they are currently in APP/HCC) would the math matrix criteria be of concern. If your child is not in HCC, but in Spectrum or at your neighborhood school, then the math placement matrix would allow for acceleration to the APP level math pathway or beyond.

Essentially, any student--whether coming from HCC, Spectrum, ALO or GenEd--can qualify for Alg 1 in 6th if they have the scores. Isn't that right?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Yes, HIMSmom.

Only if you anticipate your [currently enrolled in elementary HCC - Lincoln, Fairmount, or TM] child wanting to accelerate to Algebra 1 in 6th grade...would the math matrix criteria be of concern [to a currently enrolled in elementary HCC student].

Otherwise, If your child is not in HCC, but in Spectrum or at your neighborhood school, then the math placement matrix would allow for acceleration to the APP level math pathway or beyond. "Or beyond" should include Algebra 1 in 6th, but it's my understanding individual non-HCC middle schools may discourage such placement.

The original question was about opting out of SBAC as a current 4th grader. If enrolled in HCC and not anticipating taking Algebra 1 in 6th, there may be little risk in opting out (but who knows?, the rules seem to keep changing). If not enrolled in HCC, but anticipating accelerating along the math pathway come middle school, then opting out of SBAC may not be in your student's best interest.

my 2cents

Anonymous said...

@just fyi, thanks! That's exactly what I needed to know. I don't care about Algebra in 6th grade, so the regular HCC placement is fine for us. Given that the only consequence seems to be the possibility of not getting into Algebra, I will be opting my child out of the upcoming Smarter Balanced testing.

--Consequences