My colleagues and I tried out the Smarter Balanced Interim tests last year. We were fairly willing adopters and did pilot testing for SBAC, in addition to one of my team members being an item writer and scorer. However, after going through the process last year, we were left wanting more. The interim tests give similar feedback to the regular test, without the 1-4 levels, but “At/Near Standard” just wasn’t good enough. Well, it got better!
Three Reasons to Try Interim Tests
- The process of using the testing system can be overwhelming and there are little things that are important to remember, so the practice (not on the “real” test) is invaluable for the teachers as well as the students.
- The students get a real sense of using the tools and can see the different styles of questions in a situation where they know they need to actually try to do well. The practice tests don’t have the feeling of authenticity that is important to middle schoolers.
- You actually can get back some good information (in addition to the frustrating At/Near).
Getting to the Good Stuff (Data)
If you have never tried looking at your scores, you go to “Online Reporting” in TIDE, or through your state’s testing portal. (Washington is http://wa.portal.airast.org/). Once there, you click on the number that is next to your name, or building/grade depending on your access. It gets a bit hard to track from here, but experiment with the different combinations in the drop down menus to access the different levels of information. Here is a tutorial video: https://youtu.be/1CcqoUY-t34
One view is the typical performance categories from last year. However, from this screen you can click on students’ names and see how they scored for each question in the block. Unfortunately there is no direct access to the test question, but you can view the test through the assessment viewer in the testing portal. You end up with points earned and points possible columns for the student (which you are also able to export, but it does all the blocks, even if not completed).
Another view that you can access by clicking on the whole class or all the students under your name is the block with score percentages for your kids. This is a great way to get a snapshot of what you still need to teach and what to review.
Finally, you can view the performance categories as percentages. In this area you can also see the percentages for all the students in the state, or your district, who have taken the same test.
Some Helpful Reminders
- Make sure kids click save before they exit for the day. (It won’t “do” anything unless there is a problem.)
- If they have ANYTHING (including a space) typed in or clicked in the answer, they will not be able to go back to that one at a later date (after 20 minutes of being paused).
- The THSS (teacher hand scoring system) can be a little time consuming, but you can print the responses (at least in Chrome) by selecting all the text and using the “print selection” option from the browser. That way you aren’t stuck at a computer. All the exemplars and scoring guides are available in TIDE, in the testing portal, and in the THSS. After you enter scores for a student you need to save, but after the scores are saved, you also have to finalize them before anything will happen. Additionally, if someone else proctors for you, they can reassign your students to you so that you can score their responses.
- I found this one the hard way, you must have students assigned to your roster by the testing coordinator to see score reports. All lumped together doesn’t work unless you have building or district level access.
Finally, An Insider Tip
At the ELA Fellows meeting for WA, OSPI presenters told us about a beta system for the Online Reporting Interim Reports Viewer. This is called IRV and can be found, for WA, at http://wa.portal.airast.org/irv-beta. There are some more useful formats for score reporting as well as a survey to give feedback about what you would like to see and what you would like it to do. The best part is, when it works right, you CAN click on kids’ answers and actually see the question.
I hope you are inspired to go try out an interim test!
In my non-teacher consumed hours I love to spend time with my husband and son, play board games, sew/craft/quilt, and read (I DO teach ELA).I aspire to be more into fitness and outdoors more often, though I find a comfy chair and a good book/movie mightily appealing.