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Smarter Balanced Assessment Gets Mixed Feedback

Does the new online test accurately measure student capabilities?

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Stamford, CT | Added on April 11, 2015 At 10:00 PM

It’s a new test for students, and it’s all online. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is being implemented in the State’s schools as a testing medium aligned to the new Common Core Curriculum. The math and literacy assessment, for students in grades 3 through 8 and high school juniors, is an estimated 6 hour test, broken up over several weeks; And it’s very different from the standardized tests students are used to taking on paper.

The most obvious difference; it’s computerized. Another big difference; the test is adaptive, adjusting the difficulty of the questions based off a student’s previous answers. Unlike other standardized test, there’s also no time limit. Christina Hefele, Chief Information Officer for Stamford Public Schools, says students can take as much time as they need to finish. Hefele says these new aspects make for a better test and a more accurate measure of students’ abilities.

But not everyone is on board with the new test. This year, the Westport School District distributed the practice version to students and Charlene Zeiberg was part of a group of parents who opted their children out. Zeiberg, who took the practice test online, says she doesn’t believe the test is an accurate representation of students’ capabilities. She says the format isn’t efficient, the technology is cumbersome, and the questions are difficult and go beyond what students have been taught.

Zeiberg also says the lack of an official opt out process is concerning. While parents can opt their children out on their own action, there’s no language suggesting it as an option. The uncertainty with that the scores will be used for is also a concern. Hefele says the State is waiting to get the scores to determine what will be done with them. Zeiberg says scores that aren’t a good representation of what students can do shouldn’t be used. She says that while she agrees with the idea of improving education, the SBAC and Common Core Curriculum need to be reexamined.

Stamford Public Schools will start testing Monday. To find out more about the test, visit









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