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Consortium Releases Sample Test Items

Educators have been chomping at the bit to get a better idea of what the tests for the common standards will look like. Getting a peek at sample items is an important way to shape curriculum, both for school districts and publishers, so the sound of a restless field has been getting louder and louder as the school year gets under way.

Acutely aware of that, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium released a new round of items this week. They're not the first ones out there; as we reported to you in August, both consortia—SBAC and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC—had been circulating items in the field. Our story provides links to dozens of items, particularly from SBAC.

Since we ran that story, PARCC issued another round of sample items. Should you have any doubt about how eager folks are to see this stuff, traffic to PARCC's site crashed the server when the sample items were announced.

Smarter released a new round this week. The landing page for those items, including performance tasks, is here. It allows you to interact with the items, like students will do when they take the exam.

One English/language arts item, for instance, offers the test-taker a rough draft of an article an imaginary student is writing for a school newspaper about why the school day should be extended. It says that the article needs more detail to back up the argument being made in the article and offers information the test-taker can use to buttress the argument and finish the article. A math problem allows students to move bottles of juice into shopping bags to distribute the weight according to specifications.

The consortium is seeking feedback on the samples. You can read its announcement about the items here, and read answers to a set of frequently asked questions here. You can also view a webinar that the consortium hosted that walked viewers through the new items.


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