In less than 2 months (one if you count the off-grade SBA options), my school will embark on SBA testing. And, I’m a little on edge and curious about what it will look like, how it will affect classrooms, and who will be making decisions. Perhaps, I’m more heightened on this issue because I’ve sat in a “do not disturb” office with one admin for at least 5 separate hour-long sessions. And, those conversations are just about “when will each student be in a room for Test X?” and “is it better to test all in a day per test to avoid the ramifications of high absenteeism?” These are conversations and questions worth having, and hopefully they are happening in your building/district.
Because, this year, testing at the high school is a mess of overlapping dates and moving graduation requirement targets. These tests range from national like the AP tests, state like the SBA test, and district like the MAPS test. To see how they overlap, take a look at this DRAFT presentation that I’m preparing for staff around what tests and who will test.
How to remain calm?
Well, I remember: everything changes, 50% is unknown, and one must learn to be okay with the zigs and the zags.
Secondly, I remember that if I can provide answers to colleagues then I should do so. But, I should also be up front about not knowing an answer and either find a solution together or send it to the person who will have the answer.
Third, I remember that I am in control of my own learning. Sometimes, it’s just as easy for me to hop onto the OSPI or the Smarter Balanced website to find my own answers. If I feel that I don’t have the time to seek out the resource then I know who around me is best to have the answer or a path towards an answer.
My Most Useful Clarifications so Far:
1. There are a lot of acronyms. Check out this post to help with most of the acronyms floating around. The problem with acronyms is that they only help when everyone knows them. Best to use the full word and the acronym until the acronym is known. When it comes to SBA (formerly known as SBAC), the biggest hurdles for teachers will be hearing the words CAT (Computer Adaptive Test), CA (Classroom Activity) and PT (Performance Task).
CAT – closest to our past testing practice, but on a computer
CA – discussion or hands-on activity that comes prior to the PT, no computer; just a teacher and a classroom; no scoring
PT – Math has a variety of short answers and questions based on data; ELA has 3 questions based on 4-5 sources and a Part 2 which is a full write essay based on the sources
The CA and the PT have to be completed within 3 days of each other.
2. The SBA has grouped learning standards into 4 Claims: reading, writing, speaking/listening, and research. Each of these claims is like a binder that houses the separate standards. One of the more beneficial documents released, besides practice tests, has been the Item/Task Specifications zip files found on the Assessment page of the Smarter Balanced. One of the downsides of this document is the readability, as you have to wade through new words and extra text, like the standards rewritten. Discussing how the standards can be assessed is a useful starting place for teachers.
3. It’s important to know what your staff knows and doesn’t know. I gave this SBA-Inventory survey to my English Department to gauge knowledge. I’d probably take the “maybe” off in future surveys as I ended up thinking it really meant “no” when reading over the responses.
4. What exactly is required for graduation for students will vary based on graduation years, timeline of rollouts, and laws in place. But, for now, at this very moment, this is true. Find more information at WAtesting.com
5. The Interim Assessment Blocks are shorter assessments that were just released this month. These were the assessments that were planned to be released by December 2014. They are grouped into skill blocks like “brief writes” or “research”. However, many of the blocks require hand scoring by the classroom teacher. And, the information resulting will simply place students at a high, middle, or low range. In giving them this year, consider the timing, technology needs, and whether the data is worth the hand scoring.
So, what questions, clarifications, or unknowns are you seeing in your building? What success have you found in your planning and implementation of SBA?