by guest blogger Mike Bock
Member schools of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have started testing online assessment software that will eventually be used to deliver computer-based tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Six thousand schools from the consortium's 23 member states will test the software from now through May 2013.
Students will not be graded on the tests, since the trial period is mostly be used to collect data and try out the test delivery system in "real-world conditions". According to a press statement from the consortium, information from the pilot test will be used to create an adaptive-testing feature set to be finalized by 2014:
"The Pilot Test will be conducted in grades 3-11 in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. While the Pilot Test will be administered online, it will not include the computer-adaptive feature designed for the operational assessment in 2014-15. Data from the Pilot Test will allow Smarter Balanced to conduct initial scaling that will be used to program the adaptive test engine."
Eddie Arnold, director of strategic communications for Smarter Balanced, told Education Week that the pilot test is being administered so schools can try out the software and fix any problems before the test is finalized. Arnold emphasized the collaborative nature of the testing platform, as feedback from students and teachers will help Smarter Balanced get different kinds of feedback.
"K-12 teachers and higher education faculty from Smarter Balanced Governing States collaborated with content experts to write and review items and performance tasks that appear in the pilot test," Arnold said.
The Washington-based group was awarded $150 million from the U.S. Department of Education to develop online assessments to align with the common standards. The standards are due to be fully implemented in the 2014-2015 school year, though many of the finer details are still being worked out.