On November 2nd, we held an event for parents to learn more about the new Common Core State Standards and how they relate to the newly introduced Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC). Achievement Assessments Supervisor John Burke was present to answer questions from parents. Here are some of the highlights
Why does it take so long to get SBAC results back?
A number of the items are scored by humans. The publisher has promised to complete scoring within 4 weeks of test completion. They were close to that this year. In general even when they reach the goal of 4 weeks it means we will receive the results in the summer with anticipated distributed at the start of the next school year.
Was there a school score for 2013 or 2014? Or were these years only “practice?”
The SBAC was taken for the first time in the Spring of 2015. This was a baseline year and will be used as a starting point to measure student progress in future years. This year’s results should also not be compared to the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program because they are based on different academic standards.
What’s the maximum score for English and Math? Is a perfect score possible?
Results are based on “scale scores”. The scale scores are not based on just the number of items answered correctly but are more tied to the difficulty of the items answered correctly. It is possible to answer all of the questions correctly but the expectation of the “computer-adaptive” portion of the test is that students will answer half of the questions correctly. The highest scale score can be achieved without answering all of the questions correctly. The scores will always be between 2000 and 3000 but each grade level and subject area has a minimum and maximum.
How are students that have not been assessed with an IEP but have a special need accommodated for the test?
The new test includes Universal Supports and Designated Supports that can be utilized by any student. More information can be found at:
Where can I go if I have more questions about the actual test? (i.e Can you skip a question? How do I know if my child missed a test day?
Students must answer all the multiple questions on a given page before moving to the next page. Students can flag any question they want to make a note of to review. Students can also go back to any page in a given test segment and changed any answer regardless of it being flagged or not. The test is not timed and if your child misses a day during testing, they can pick up where they left off once they return. The class does not need to be taking the same test section at the same time, and students will be allowed all the time they need to complete the test. For more information on specifics, you can look at these PDFs from CAASPP about SBAC overview and sample questions.
How will the “statewide accountability rubric” differ from the Federal SQII? Why? Is there one at the school level and another district level?
The statewide accountability model is under development. Interested parties can find out more at: www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/documents/newindicatorsapi.pdf
The federal government has its own model for accountability. For SFUSD that model is currently based on the CORE waiver and our model is the School Quality Improvement Index. Both model are at the school-level.
How can the new “school-wide” test results be used to compare school to school? (like the API scores could be compared)
The CDE does make each school’s results available on their website so that comparisons can be made:
How do you find out what level my child is being tested at?
All students are assessed at grade level standards. The results denote to what level they are meeting those standards.
If teachers are still learning on teaching students to take the test, what is the school doing to prepare students fully?
All SFUSD schools are implementing the Common Core Standards. The SBAC assessment is based on the Common Core standards. Instruction and the assessment are directly linked. With that being said we all need time to become more expert in teaching these new standards.
What is the middle school Computer Science curriculum? Is it a separate class?
We are currently piloting a 6th grade curriculum in 12 middle (and K-8) schools and will go district-wide next year. Middle school CS will be taught during the elective wheel, so as to not supplant core content classes, but it will actually be mandatory. Students receive approximately 40 hours of class time, depending on the school’s elective schedule. CS teachers attended a summer institute and receive ongoing professional development and coaching.
We are developing and will be piloting at least two elementary grades this year. Students will receive 20 hours of instruction over a semester. Because CS is a speciality area in which most of our elementary teachers have not received professional development, the elementary courses will be taught be “itinerant” teachers, that is, specialist teachers who come in just to teach this subject.
We have just on-boarded a high school CS teacher on special assignment, who will be working with all our high schools to offer consistently high-quality CS options to their students.
Our PK-12 Curriculum, which was adopted by the Board of Education in June, makes SFUSD the first large urban school district to commit to offering quality CS instruction to all its PK-12 students.
For more information, here is a link to our CS website: http://www.csinsf.org
What is expected now in terms of keyboards for middle school?
The district does not have keyboard requirements for middle schoolers. However, we strongly recommend that schools provide enough keyboard instruction and practice to their students that their keyboarding skills will not interfere with their performance on the SBAC. Teachers are able to observe their students’ keyboarding skills during the SBAC Interim Assessment, which many schools are already administering (as well as in other contexts), and then provide more keyboarding support, as needed.
We do not have a district-purchased keyboarding program, but there are several high-quality products, many of them free. We provide information about them to schools upon request.
What Can I do if I feel my child is not being challenged enough in the classroom?
If you do not feel that your child is receiving material that is challenging them you should first let your teacher know about your concerns. You might work with them to understand the needs of your child and to differentiate instruction in a way that provides your child with appropriately challenging coursework.
If the teacher does not know how to do this or has difficulty coming up with a plan that meets your child's needs you can speak with your principal and ask them to help come up with a plan for your child. You may also ask for a student success team (SST) to help support your child.
Guidelines around advancing a child to a higher grade level,are also often made in an SST meeting or meetings and that there are a variety of factors that are considered. These factors include academic performance, social and emotional maturity and physical maturity. Experts may be called to evaluate these various components as the group works to make a determination about advancing the student
We also had Steve Padilla Director of Communications at GreatSchools there to explain their online tool "GreatKids State Test Guide." "GreatKids" offers a comprehensive companion guide - by state, grade and subject - parents can use to understand their child’s score report and find actionable “how to help” resources. It includes videos showing how Common Core standard in the classroom. Go to CaliforniaTestGuide.org and select a grade to explore parent resources.