As noted in our last newsletter, all grades 3-5 students in the state of Washington and many other states across the nation will be taking a test called the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) during the month of May. This assessment is designed to align with and assess our students’ progress in meeting the state’s standards in English Language Arts (reading and writing) and Math. According to the creator of the assessment, the Smarter Balanced Consortium, these rigorous “academic standards provide consistent guidelines at each grade level that will help prepare your child to graduate from high school ready for college and the workplace. These new benchmarks challenge students to develop a deeper understanding of subject matter, learn how to think critically, and apply what they are learning in the real world.”
The new standards have shifted our teaching in truly positive ways. In the area of reading and writing (ELA), that shift has students engaged in reading as much non-fiction as fiction, learning about our world by reading more challenging materials closely, and discussing what they read by citing evidence and using academic vocabulary. The shift in the area of mathematics includes skill building within and across grade levels, having our students really understand mathematical processes and how to apply them when it comes to real world problem solving, and to think fast and solve problems with speed and accuracy.
Key features of the Smarter Balanced Assessment include the following:
- Measures critical thinking with questions that ask students to apply research, writing, and problem solving skills;
- Assessments are untimed and students can take breaks so they can do their best;
- Accessibility resources for all students and accommodations for those that need them;
Developed with input from K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and other experts.
This assessment will be taken online at all three grade levels. The test includes multiple choice and extended response items, as well as a Performance Task that gives students the opportunity to engage in research and cite evidence that supports their thinking about a topic/problem. You will receive a schedule providing you with the days/dates your child will be participating in the assessment.
We are inviting grades 3-5 parents to attend an informational meeting about the assessment on Monday, April 25 at 6:30 here at the school. At that time, we will share information about the state standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment. In the meantime, you are invited to learn more by visiting the Smarter Balanced website at www.smarterbalanced.org and take a practice test at www.smarterbalanced.org/practice-test/
Hope to see you there!