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Annual Tests to be Overhauled Over Two Years

More Than 1,100 California Schools Taking Part in Pilot Testing of Computer-Based Assessments

February 28, 2013

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on February 20 that more than 1,100 schools across California will be participating in computer-based pilot testing being coordinated by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The pilot test is a key milestone in the effort to overhaul the state's testing system over the next two years.

"It's gratifying to see so many schools accept the challenge of taking part in this pilot test, which is an important step toward our goal of creating a testing system that measures how ready our students are for the challenges of a changing world," Torlakson said. "The immense interest we are seeing reflects the desire among teachers and administrators for California to move toward assessments focused on improving teaching and learning."

The pilot tests are a computer-based administration in the content areas of English-language arts/literacy and mathematics. Items are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and include selected response, constructed response, and performance tasks. Taking part in the pilot tests will not produce scores for students, schools, or districts, but allows students and educators to experience the basic operation of the Smarter Balanced test administration system.

The pilot test window, which opened February 20, runs through May. Two samples of schools will participate in the pilot test: a scientifically selected sample and a volunteer sample. Schools in the scientific sample have been selected on the basis of a predetermined set of characteristics (e.g., percent free/reduced-price lunch, percent white/non-white students) designed to match the demographics of each member state in the consortium. Data from schools in the scientific sample will be used to inform item development. More than 1,100 California schools are participating in the scientific sample.

In addition, more than 1,700 California schools have registered to participate in a volunteer component of the pilot test, which will start in April. The volunteer component is open to all schools in Smarter Balanced member states and will ensure that all schools have the opportunity to try out the test administration system.
Torlakson has recommended that California replace its current Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessment program with Smarter Balanced assessments beginning in the 2014–15 school year.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is a multistate consortium working collaboratively to develop a student assessment system aligned with a common core of academic content standards for English-language arts/literacy and mathematics. As a Smarter Balanced governing state, California is a decision-making member. Smarter Balanced assessments are designed to measure student progress toward college and career readiness.

Source:  California Department of Education.