Daily Archives: July 24, 2015

Description of The SBAC… This Is What Children Face

For those of you who are new to this slithering mess the acronyms are as follows:

SBAC: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Snake 2AThe Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is a service provided by a public institution (University of California, Los Angeles), governed by member states/territories and funded with member state/territory fees. Smarter Balanced has claimed to have “developed next-generation assessments to ‘accurately’ measure student progress toward college and career readiness in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics”. Complete information on the Consortium and its assessments, including full practice tests for each grade and subject, can be found at www.smarterbalanced.org.

SBA:  Smarter Balanced Assessment

The Smarter Balance Assessment is just exactly what it says.  It is the assessment itself.  Each child in 3rd through 8th and 11th grades, will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment in both ELA (English Language Arts) and Mathematics.

What is required of children taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment?

There are four components a child encounters throughout this assessment series.

The ELA Performance Task:  Children read varying texts on different screens.  They then are given a prompt they must “write” to, comparing and analyzing the texts they have just read.  The student then goes about writing their response and typically this involves several paragraphs.  These paragraphs must be typed into a text box.  Younger children are known to enter the computer lab first thing in the morning and often are not finished with this task by the end of the day.  They then come back the following day to peck at it again. Their hands do not span the keyboard.

The Math Performance Task:  Children read a contextual problem.  They are asked various questions around this problem and are asked to explain how they solve each layer of problem.  Children are required to type their explanations into the text box provided.

ELA Computer Adaptive Test (CAT): This portion of the test has children encountering approximately 30 multiple choice and short answer questions.  Some multiple choice questions have more than one correct answer.  The child must select each correct answer for that question or they get the entire question wrong.  Furthermore, if a child gets a few questions right, they then throw them a progressively harder question.  If the child misses a few questions in a row, they get thrown progressively easier questions.  Essentially, each child encounters different questions depending how they answer each individual question.

Math Computer Adaptive Test (CAT):  This component of the test is essentially the same as the ELA CAT.  The children encounter 30ish questions on this day, the level of difficulty fluctuating up or down, depending upon how the child answers each question.  The math problems involve multiple steps and typically require the child to utilize the frontal cortex of their brain, the place holding the capacity for reasoning and problem solving.  According to neuro scientists, the ability to reason and problem solve is solidified sometime between 11 and 15 years old.


The performance tasks are known to take a day a piece.  Some children take a second day to complete the task.  They begin the test, often once they arrive at school, and are still pecking away up to the ending bell.  Imagine, 8 year olds, sitting before computers for an entire day for ONE of the FOUR portions of this test.

Young children are taking this test for lengthy periods of time, more than is required of college age adults on final exams.

Thus, those of us who are in the trenches, looking at the eyes of our students, are proclaiming the developmental inappropriateness of this testing beast.  Not only is this unethical, it is also harmful to a child’s confidence and attitude toward learning.  Layer this with the studies coming out regarding the unreliability and invalidity of this test.

Testing is not learning.

Passionately Submitted,