One Simple Reason YOU Should Care About Smarter Balanced Assessments
You may be thrilled your state is moving to Common Core. Or you might detest the Common Core State Standards. Either way, if you are a parent of a gifted student or a struggling learner, you have an important reason to want the Smarter Balanced assessment implemented.
The Smarter Balanced assessment can help measure growth.
The Smarter Balanced test will adapt to your child’s academic level as she takes the test. If she is answering correctly, the questions become tougher and rise in grade level. If she is answering incorrectly, the test will pose questions from a lower grade level. At the end, the student is provided two scores. One measures proficiency in that subject. One is the equivalent grade level in that subject. Subtract last year’s equivalent grade level from this year’s and determine how much growth was made.
Your current assessment only provides proficiency and only in a narrow band. A student who far exceeds expectations for that grade cannot be accurately measured as they are above the ceiling for standardized proficiency exams. A student who is far below grade level also cannot be accurately measured as the test isn’t designed for him either. A written standardized test by necessity cannot test outside a narrow band. It is not adaptive.
A gifted child may score “Advanced” on back-to-back tests, yet a proficiency-based test will not show if she made a full year’s growth. What if she only made 1/2 a year’s growth? Wouldn’t a parent want to know? Shouldn’t the schools be made aware of this problem?
A struggling student may score “Not Proficient” on consecutive tests, yet have made two years’ growth. Shouldn’t the parent know about this tremendous growth? Shouldn’t the teacher be commended for the growth instead of being held accountable for a student who is “Not Proficient”?
Add to this issue that more states are requiring standardized test scores as part of the teachers’ evaluations. If the financial and professional pressure is to have as many students as possible be “Proficient” or “Advanced”, this rewards teachers who ignore students already proficient or who will never be proficient. It isn’t moral to have educational discrimination codified in our nation’s and states’ laws and present in our standardized tests.
Smarter Balanced is a game-changer! By being adaptive and computer-based, Smarter Balanced provides an equivalent grade level for each subject. Smarter Balanced can measure growth. Parents will know the academic growth their children have made. School administration will be able to assess which teachers impart great success to struggling children or give a boost to gifted learners. The top teachers will be the ones who help each and every student grow!
Sadly, some legislators have chosen to delay the implementation of Smarter Balanced Assessments. In Michigan, they are proposing delaying it two years. This is two additional years of assessments that cannot appropriately measure gifted students or struggling learners. Many do not like Common Core and see this as an opportunity to postpone part of its implementation or re-establish local control. However, no matter what your opinion of the Common Core State Standards is, Smarter Balanced is a vital step in equity for all students and needs to be implemented.
If you live in Michigan, you can locate and contact your legislators here. Your voice makes a difference!
Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE. Together we can make a difference for all learners!