STATE TESTING FAQs
How will Washington’s state tests change with Common Core?
In Washington, we will replace some of our state tests with new exams aligned to the Common Core in math and English language arts. The new exams are a part of a comprehensive system called “Smarter Balanced.” This system is made up of four components:
Note: Please see our FAQ on the Smarter Balanced field test for more information.
Which tests will students take this school year (spring 2014)?
Will students take Smarter Balanced tests this school year?
In spring 2014, about one-third of students in our state will take a Smarter Balanced field test in math and/or English language arts. Students will not receive scores on the field test, which serves as a trial run of the system to help ensure the tests are valid, reliable and fair for all students. It also gives teachers and schools a chance to gauge their readiness in advance the tests going live in 2015.
Note: Please see our FAQ on the Smarter Balanced field tests for more information.
What tests will students take in the 2014-15 school year?
Why do we need standardized tests like our state exams or Smarter Balanced?
Standardized tests are aligned to what students are learning in the class. These tests serve as independent, objective measures of how students are doing. Clear, understandable test scores help teachers and parents work together to adjust their approach and better meet students’ needs. Standardized tests also provide data that we use to determine, for example, what’s working in special education, or whether race- or income-based achievement gaps continue to persist.
What makes the new Smarter Balanced tests better than our current state exams?
The new Smarter Balanced tests are aligned to the new learning standards. They include multiple choice questions and performance tasks designed to measure skills like research, listening, and communicating reasoning. The tests require students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems and write persuasively. The tests are “computer-adaptive,” so the computer automatically adjusts the difficulty of the questions as the student is taking the test. Parts of the test are graded by scorers and other parts are machine scored so the results will be returned faster than our previous tests. Because the assessments are better, and we get the results faster, teachers and parents can actually use the results to help students.
The new Smarter Balanced tests are:
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Updated February 2015