Some Wyoming students will take an extra test this spring after they complete their required state assessments. However, the additional test won’t determine if they’ve learned what they’re supposed to; students will be testing the test.
The pilot test in April and May could become the ancestor to the required assessments Wyoming students take in 2015.
Deb Lindsey is the Wyoming Department of Education’s assessments director. She said contracting with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the maker of the pilot test, is one option of aligning state assessments with the national Common Core State Standards. The standards explain what students are expected to know at each grade level.
For its part, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium wants to find out how accurately its products assess students’ knowledge of concepts in the Common Core State Standards.
“Just because we intend to test a certain concept doesn’t mean the question we write actually tests that concept,” said Mark Mathern, the Natrona County School District’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction. The district volunteered to participate with other districts in the state and nationally in the pilot project.
The project also finds out things like whether test questions are biased for any population, such as minorities, and how the test will measure students’ knowledge gains over time, Lindsey said. It also will be a chance for the company to test its online delivery of the test in real life, according to a media release.
Nearly 7,000 students across
15 Wyoming districts along with 1 million students nationwide will take the Smarter Balanced Assessments test.
Researchers then will refine and further develop the tests based on data from Wyoming and around the country.
“This test is under development and in order to make sure the test is both valid and reliable, we have to essentially test the test,” Lindsey said in a media release.
Wyoming likely will participate in another round of testing next year. By then, Smarter Balanced Assessments will be a field test, which involves many more students, Lindsey said.
Students, teachers and state
officials will never see the scores of the pilot tests, according to Mathern. But they will give them a preview of what future state assessments could look like.
Natrona County School District administrators volunteered to help test the Smarter Balanced Assessments and allowed school officials to decide if they wanted their students to participate. Frontier Middle School officials opted to try it; schools and districts still have until March 27 to sign up. Some school administrators hesitated because the additional testing takes time, Mathern said.
“People indeed are working hard on just meeting expectations of our current assessment, let alone an assessment we don’t know will be in place two to three years from now,” Mathern said.