SBAC to replace the burnt out STAR

As the state of California ushers in new Common Core standards, the STAR Test is making its way out the door. California schools are now being introduced to a new form of testing called SBAC, or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Freshmen, sophomores and juniors may all take the test this year, the state recently announced. Just how many students will take it, and what subjects the test will cover, the state has not yet announced.

The SBAC is a state-led consortium working test to develop next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that measure student progress toward college and career readiness. This new assessment will be given on a computer, and allows for a wider range of test questions the STAR could not successfully cover.  It will test students’ critical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills.

The SBAC assessment can be used to evaluate the achievement and growth of a student’s progress more effectively. In addition, students can access actual test questions to study online, unlike in the STAR test.

“I have looked over some practice tests and I have seen some very exciting questions,” said Assistant Principal Blaine Torpey.

    But some students are not as enthusiastic. Junior Michael Chourappa said, “I wish we had the STAR test again because it was a sufficient test to test our abilities and we don’t need another test. STAR test was easier, it was custom.”

The California Department of Education claims that this test will be a far better option because it will provide tools and resources that help teachers differentiate instruction and meet the unique needs of each student. However, the state is also requiring a sample of ninth and tenth graders to take the test, adding on the amount of equipment and material needed to adequately prepare students for the test.

The test will be given around the last 12 weeks of school, and the small details are still being decided, including how to administer a computerized test to over 700 junior students and small groups of freshman and sophomores.

CVHS plans to give out the SBAC in shifts. They will rotate different junior classes into the computer rooms to take the test that will be approximately eight hours long.

The campus has a total of three computer rooms and one library, each with the capacity of about one class per room. For a school where simply reserving the computer room is difficult, these hour long tests might create a huge conflict, as teachers are usually waitlisted for days in order to use the rooms for projects and essays.

“This is a logistical complication, and it will be a challenge, but the rotating of classes will allow for everyone to have access to computers,” said Torpey.

A test on the computer can come with many problems. The computers at CVHS are old and could experience glitches while many tests run simultaneously. Also, most students do not know about the SBAC. Many could be unprepared and not ready to take this advanced assessment. Although all teachers are apparently already up to date with Common Core Standards in their curriculum already, there are some doubts that juniors are not prepared for this test.

“Our teachers are definitely in the process of getting prepared. If the staff of CVHS is not even prepared yet to teach the material, how are student going to pass this test? We have excellent teachers at this school, and I have no doubt they will be ready,” said Torpey.

Evan Kwong

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