Common Core curriculum will be in full implementation this year, and students will be taking a new set of standardized tests, developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English/Language Arts and Mathematics (Grade 3-8 and Grade 11). Sunnyvale School District participated in field tests for the new Smarter Balance tests in Spring 2014.
The Sunnyvale School District has been preparing for the required technology for Smarter Balance tests since Common Core Standards were adopted. According to Bruce Selzler, Sunnyvale School District’s Manager of Instructional Technology and Student Information Systems, his office had provided requisite network and bandwidth to all our schools and arranged to have all testing devices properly set up. He and his staff also knew about the proper process and procedures for administering the tests, as well as how to take them. He recounted, “we had a high level of confidence in these issues before the testing window opened. However that level of understanding doesn’t necessarily translate from a handful of trainers and users, working with dummy data, to an actual live and accurate database with literally hundreds of additional users and an exponential increase in the demand on resources.”
Selzler is pleased with the field tests this year. They allow his office to see beyond theory and observe how things are supposed to work. They have gained insights into how the entire system behaves in a real environment with all the students taking the tests, rather than with just a few test accounts and a limited number of users. Having experienced the subtleties of administering the test and encountering areas where some questions in the test did not function correctly, Selzler feels he knows what to expect in a real testing situation. Our district will be well prepared and ready next Spring.
At school sites, test proctors reported logistics and mechanics of students using tablet computers to take their tests. Some found that the tethered keyboards were not functioning properly. Others noticed that it was a bit challenging for students to see the screen when they laid the tablet flat on the desk and students had improvised by propping the screen up with some books. Teachers and administrators who had participated in this years testing appreciated the experience and preparation for next year.
Contributors: Bruce Selzler, Sunnyvale School District’s Manager of Instructional Technology and Student Information Systems, and Nina Wong-Dobkin