Carlmont practices with new standardized test

Smarter Balanced tests are  computerized, a big adjustment for both students and teachers.

KAB2013 / Wikipedia / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Smarter Balanced tests are computerized, a big adjustment for both students and teachers.

Hanalei Pham, Scot Scoop Editor

Scantrons and multiple choice is giving way to a new type of testing in the form of Smarter Balanced assessments.

This year will be the first year Carlmont fully implements Smarter Balanced testing. The week of Oct. 26 to Oct. 29 has served as practice to acclimate both students and teachers to a new style of test. The actual assessment will be given to juniors in the spring.

Amanda Masini, a sophomore, said: “The test was difficult because we aren’t used to it, especially because it was on a computer. There are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out for the process to run smoother. But overall, it still felt like a standardized test.”

The tests will allow students to practice doing math on a computer. After results are published, students can reflect.

“The online interface will take some getting used to, especially the online calculator, which students haven’t used before,” said math teacher Michael Skrable.

Smarter Balanced Assessments are the next generation of standardized testing, aligned with the Common Core State Standards for English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

The assessments are comprised of multiple choice questions as well as “extended response and technology enhanced items,” according to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium website.

The test questions are supposed to imitate complex real-world problems to promote deeper understanding and analysis. The Smarter Balanced assessment will replace STAR testing, CAHSEE, and the all school writing assessment.

Skrable said, “The Smarter Balanced test is different from the previous standardized tests in that it is not all multiple choice, encouraging problem solving and applying concepts.”

According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium website, the tests use computer adaptive testing technologies to provide meaningful and reflective data. Though students are advised to take the tests seriously, many teachers agree that it is too early to determine the true value of the tests.

“The tests are supposed to give baseline information and validate the merits of what is being taught so that the school can address pitfalls,” said English teacher Cynthia Artiga-Faupusa, “However, in terms of assessing student performance, I believe that such tests are a measure but not the only measure. They should not be treated as the only indicator of student performance.”