By Jason KUROSU
New computer based tests are on the verge of becoming the norm as states across the country adopt Smarter Balanced Assessments, computerized tests which educators hope will eliminate flaws in long implemented multiple choice tests. Schools from California and 21 other states are currently on a trial run of sorts, as students experience the Smarter Balanced testing in its infancy and implementers of the new system can anticipate possible changes to be made to the tests. Rather than the usual standardized testing, students are getting an initial look at what could be the future of testing, but without being graded for it.
It is hoped that these tests will align more closely with the goals of the Common Core Standards, as the assessments will measure students’ abilities to develop creative responses to situations presented in tests, rather than selecting from a handful of possible answers.
Though the Common Core Standards were adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010, the new testing represents a major shift from the old standards, one that focuses on 21st century job skills, skills which employers and educators feel are necessary for graduates to secure jobs. Full implementation of Smarter Balanced Assessments is expected for spring 2015.
The 4th Annual Community Forum on Public Education was held this past Saturday so that parents could learn about the new tests and Common Core implementation. A panel of speakers discussed the implementation of Common Core Standards in the state. The panel included Nancy Brownell from the California Dept. of Education and senior fellow for Common Core Systems Implementation, Ron Bennett of School Services of California and Patty Scripter of the California State PTA.
In addition to Common Core Implementation, the forum also covered the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a three-year plan for assessing accountability and creating goals for each school district. Each district, in coordination with parents, teachers, school personnel and more, will develop goals and strategies for the state’s eight priority areas, which include Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Other Student Outcomes, School Climate, Parent Involvement, Implementation of Academic Standards, Course Access and Basic Services. Each district may also prioritize areas that pertain specifically to their district. The plan will also be updated annually, despite being a three-year plan.
Patty Scripter spoke on behalf of the PTA on how parents will be involved in the process, which includes a review by a parent advisory committee.
The final LCAP must be completed and adopted by July 1.