New State Online Testing is coming in April and May

posted Apr 10, 2015, 3:42 PM by Rhonda Schlosser   [ updated Apr 10, 2015, 4:10 PM ]

Moving away from fill-in-the-bubble tests and how assessments are changing:

For years, most year-end tests were mainly multiple-choice exams that focused on basic skills. These tests did not measure the skills students need for success after high school, such as writing, critical thinking, and problem solving. With new education standards, states are working together to develop tests that better measure these important skills. In 2014-15, all California schools will replace their old State tests in Language Arts and Math with new online assessments designed to better reflect how well students are learning the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.


The SBAC online assessment is only one part of the systemic changes occurring in our school systems over the last few years.

  1. The state implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, to give our schools and parents more control over a portion of their budgets.

  2. Then, in 2010, the state introduced California’s Common Core State Standards.

  3. Next, there was training for our teachers on how to change their classroom dynamics to engage their students; more collaboration, more inquiry.

  4. Finally, they rolled out the new adaptive assessments to check how this new system is working.  

Because the things we want students to know and be able to do have changed, tests must change as well.


The new assessments fit into the picture in this way. The system to evaluate how well students are learning has three different types of assessments – two informal and one more formal.

  • Informal: Formative and interim assessments, that are used to understand where the child is and to modify instruction are done by the teachers. They are not for accountability, but for learning. (Teachers and parents use informal assessments daily; when we ask a student to show us how they did something, or ask them questions about what they are doing.)

  • Formal: Summative assessments are administered by the State. In California, the tests were developed by an organization called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and are replacing the previous STAR tests.  Every student in public schools are required to take the State tests. 


SBAC in 2015: A Few Facts:

•  The SBAC assessments will only be taken by students in Grades 3-8 and Grade 11

•  The SBAC assessments cover only Math and English Language Arts

•  All SBAC tests are administered on a computer

•  SBAC results do not determine whether a child will graduate or move forward to the next grade level

•  The SBAC assessment does not replace the traditional high school exit exam (CAHSEE)

•  The SBAC results will not impact teacher evaluations.

•  This year, due to the newness of the test, there will be no API score, which is the State score that measures the academic performance of each school.

•  There will still be an AYP score, which is the Federal’s score that shows Adequate Yearly Progress for schools and districts.  In order to achieve this score, schools need to obtain a 95% rate of participation or better.


NOTE: There will still be a paper pencil State assessment test in Science for grades 5, 8, and 10.


What are the new State tests trying to accomplish?

  • Measure real-world skills.

  • Allow students to apply knowledge and skills through critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem solving.

  • End teaching to the test.

  • Encourages students to navigate technology, a key to 21st century learning.

  • Include activities that more closely mirror what students are learning, including through collaborative portions.

  • Provide a more accurate understanding of student knowledge than previous tests because they ask students to show and apply what they know, instead of just picking the right answer from a multiple-choice question.

  • Include a greater variety of questions.


How you can help your child prepare:

  • Read and Discuss Non-Fiction books and articles

    • Ask children to explain their thinking. How do they know what they know, where is the evidence in the text?

  • Use Math for Real World problems.

    • Ask children to explain their thinking as they go along

    • Work on speed and accuracy of the explanation

  • Help them practice their typing abilities.

  • Practice the tests online: http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test/  

(To access the practice tests, scroll down to the green box at the bottom of the web page that says Student Interface Practice and Training Tests.  Clicking on this should take you to a sign in screen that is already scheduled for a guest to sign in.  You can then click on the sign in button, where you can choose the grade you’d like to try.)   PLEASE NOTE: The practice tests are not adaptive like the real tests will be. That means that the questions do not adjust based on the answers given.


If you have any questions, please email me rschlosser@slvusd.org, or give me a call at 831-336-5167


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