Superintendent's Message

Smarter Balanced Tests and the Common Core State Standards this Spring

This spring students throughout the state of California will be taking the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests, aka Smarter Balanced tests. The tests are aligned to the new Common Core State Standards.   The tests will be administered to students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 for English–Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.

The SBAC is very different from the previous California Standards Tests (CSTs) that were part of the (STAR) system*.  The new tests focus on the Common Core standards, which stress problem-solving, communication skills and conceptual understanding of Math.  Because the Common Core standards are more rigorous, than the previous standards, the state tests will be harder, too.

Last year, students from California and 16 other states belonging to the Smarter Balanced consortium took a Smarter Balanced “field,” or practice, test.   Smarter Balanced is predicting that between 33 percent and 44 percent of students in California and elsewhere will reach the threshold for Level 3 this spring.  Level 3 is roughly equivalent to proficiency in this four performance levels test.  Specifically, level 4 designates advanced work and Levels 1 and 2 demonstrate partial or minimal knowledge of the standards.

It is important to be prepared for a big shift in test results, and as some experts predict, initial scores will be low, as we all adapt to a whole new testing system.

In Paramount Unified School District, we have been working hard over the past and current years to prepare for this big shift by first and foremost training our teachers to teach the new Common Core standards to our students. 

Teachers have attended professional development on Language Arts, Writing and Math to support this shift in curriculum and instruction.  I am pleased to share that we are seeing good results in the work that our students are producing and in the deeper engagement of our students in their studies.

Additionally, we have invested our resources in the purchase of new computers and support technology that are used in day to day instruction.  Because the SBAC test is administered on a computer, our teachers have been working to familiarize and orient our students to the new test format.

The CAASPP testing window for the Paramount Unified School District runs from: 
April 20 through May 22, 2015 
[schools will share their specific testing schedule with the parents and students they serve]

* Note: Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, STAR testing program has been replaced by CAASPP, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress program.  For 2014–15, the CAASPP System encompasses the following assessments:

  • Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for English–Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics in grades three through eight and eleven.
  • Alternate assessments for English–Language Arts and Mathematics in grades three through eight and eleven.
  • Science assessments in grades five, eight, and ten (i.e., California Standards Tests [CSTs], California Modified Assessment [CMA], and California Alternate Performance Assessment [CAPA]).
  • Standards-based tests in Spanish (STS) for Reading/Language Arts in grades two through eleven (optional). 

Herman M. Mendez

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