March 28, 2013: MSL Updates

Measures of Student Learning: NC’s Common Exam PDFs (regular and large print), materials lists, constructed response scoring rubrics, and all other ancillary materials required for the Common Exam spring administrations are now available on NC Education to LEA Test Coordinators and Testing Assistants.



February 5, 2013: Common Exams Specifications Available

Specification files are now available for the Common Core-aligned high school math exams, Discrete Math (exam will not be administered until 2013-14), elementary and middle school social studies, and elementary and middle school science. We also updated the rest of the specifications documents to be more clear about the amount of time for testing.
The entire set of specifications are available at: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/educatoreffect/measures/specifications/.


October 9, 2012: New Formative Assessment Plans Available

New formative assessment plans developed by North Carolina teachers aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the NC Essential Standards have been created to support the formative assessment principles outlined in NC FALCON. Formative assessment plans are available for the following content and program areas (at various grade levels/subjects):

• Arts Education

• Career and Technical Education

• English as a Second Language

• English Language Arts

• Healthful Living

• Mathematics

• Science

• Social Studies

• World Languages

• Pre-Kindergarten

After logging into NC FALCON (http://center.ncsu.edu/nc/), the plans can be found under the heading “Formative Assessment Plans.” Please share this information with other educators. Any questions should be directed to Carmella Fair, NC FALCON coordinator, at carmella.fair@dpi.nc.gov.


July 31, 2012: North Carolina Essential Standards Assessment Examples Available for Review

These assessment examples are aligned to new content standards and reinforce teaching the standards to their intended level of deep mastery. The purpose of providing examples is to illustrate ways in which the standards or part(s) of the standards might be assessed in the classroom. Please send feedback to us at feedback@dpi.nc.gov and we will use your input to refine our instructional tool.

Social Studies

http://ssnces.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/Assessment+Info .

Arts

http://ances.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/Arts+Education+Assessment+Examples

Healthful Living

http://hlnces.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/Healthful+Living+Assessment+Examples

World Languages

http://wlnces.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/TOPS+Assessment+Examples+Work

Science

http://scnces.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/home


June 25, 2012: Transitioning to the Smarter Balanced Assessment System Presentation at Summer Leadership Conference

Transitioning to the Smarter Balanced Assessment System Presentation


June 25, 2012: NY Releases Common Core Aligned Assessment Items

This week, teachers in New York were able to view sample test questions that will resemble those included in standardized tests that are aligned with the new Common Core State Standards. After reviewing the sample questions, some teachers said they were relieved. "It makes it seem like they will be expecting the students to actually understand, use and apply the topics they are taught," said seventh-grade teacher Molly Elverson. Click here to learn more. Access the questions here.


June 25, 2012: SMARTER Balanced Weekly Update

Issue 70: Week ending Friday, June 22, 2012

Top News This Week

• Formative Assessment Master Work Plan approved by states
• Technology readiness data collection and best practices
The Smarter Balanced Weekly Update is an email sent each Friday to keep Consortium members and collaborators informed of new developments and upcoming events. The Update is widely distributed to Consortium state leads, work group members, Consortium and WestEd staff, and Consortium advisors, partners and service providers. State members should feel free to share information in the Update with those who are interested in the Consortium’s work.

Please note that embedded links in the Update sometimes direct readers to the Consortium’s internal website, available only to Consortium members. If you are a state employee in a Consortium state and need access to material on this website, please contact sbac@wested.org

From the Executive Director
Greetings. I am pleased to report that the Governing States have approved the Smarter Balanced Formative Master Work Plan (Formative MWP), which details our approach to developing formative assessment practices and professional development materials for educators.

Formative, interim, and summative assessments comprise the three central components of our vision for a balanced assessment system that contributes to improved teaching and learning. While the summative component will be used as our accountability instrument, and the interim component can provide information across the school year on student progress using a comprehensive set of released items and tasks, the formative component is designed to provide resources and tools to teachers to improve their thoughtful use of assessment activities to enhance day-to-day classroom instruction.

The assessment practices and strategies that will result from the Formative MWP will help teachers address learning challenges and differentiate instruction. The Formative MWP outlines key projects that will help the Consortium achieve this vision:

  • Digital Library—At the center of the Formative MWP is a digital library that will house resources created by Smarter Balanced and those submitted by states and educators. The digital library will allow teachers to rate and comment on materials so that knowledge from the classroom can be shared across the Consortium.
  • National Advisory Panel—To develop criteria for the resources to be included in the digital library, the Consortium will convene a national advisory panel of experts on formative assessment practices and quality instruction of the Common Core State Standards.
  • Professional Learning Materials—Smarter Balanced will develop online professional learning materials and supplemental assessment resources, including trainings on the components of the assessment system, the Common Core State Standards learning progressions, and using reporting data to inform instruction. Additional trainings will also be developed to help educators access and interpret Smarter Balanced interim and summative score reports as well as to search the web-based resources, use collaboration tools, and comment on resources in the digital library.
  • Exemplar Instructional Modules—Smarter Balanced will develop 52 modules across grades, in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, that will demonstrate how to meet the needs of all learners in diverse settings with embedded formative assessment practices and descriptive feedback from rigorous tasks. These instructional modules will include lesson plans, templates, curriculum resources, evidence collection tools, teacher analysis, descriptive feedback strategies, and follow-up planning.
  • Engaging Member States and Educators—Smarter Balanced will convene State Leadership Teams to provide input throughout the process. These teams will also be charged with recruiting an average of 90 educators per state to form State Networks of Educators that will recommend assessment literacy resources and formative tools for inclusion in the digital library, as well as provide feedback on the development of instructional modules.
  • Criteria to Evaluate Publisher Materials—Smarter Balanced will provide materials that teachers and districts can use to evaluate the quality of assessment activities found in textbooks and other published materials, with regard to their alignment to the Common Core State Standards and the extent to which they assess the acquisition of deeper learning.
  • Professional Learning Social Network—Smarter Balanced will host virtual Professional Learning Communities that cut across school, district, and state boundaries. This will greatly expand the learning and collaboration opportunities available to teachers to engage in cooperative professional development.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the development of the work plan, particularly the members of our Formative Assessment Practices and Professional Learning Work Group, and the ongoing collaboration and support we have experienced with the CCSSO Formative Assessment SCASS. In the coming months, the Formative Assessment Practices and Professional Learning Work Group will sponsor the development of RFPs to carry out this work, which is expected to begin this fall. JW

Announcements

Formative Assessment Master Work Plan approved—Governing States voted to approve the Formative Assessment Master Work Plan (Formative MWP) as amended to address feedback that some materials should be ready and available for teacher use at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The vote approved the six main activities of the Formative MWP and associated dates. The Formative MWP can be viewed here: https://sites.google.com/a/smarterbalanced.org/home/master-work-plans.

Technology readiness data collection and best practices—The first data collection window for the Technology Readiness Tool closes on June 30. At that time, a snapshot will be taken of all the information submitted by schools, and the first readiness analysis will be completed. To assist states during this critical period, Smarter Balanced has compiled best practices based on experiences to date with the Technology Readiness Tool. Please see email and attached document sent from sbac@wested.org on June 19.

Item reviewer recruitment—K-12 state leads: An email was sent on June 12 inviting qualified educators from Smarter Balanced Governing States to participate in the process of reviewing test items and performance tasks for the 2013 Pilot Test. The deadline for registration is June 25. Please contact your Teacher Involvement Coordinator for more details

Executive Committee Co-Chair announcement—The Governing States elected Joseph Martineau of Michigan to be the new Smarter Balanced Executive Committee Co-Chair.

Executive Committee member election—The election of Joseph Martineau of Michigan as Executive Committee Co-Chair creates a vacancy on the Executive Committee for a Governing State member. The Consortium has started the nomination process for a new Executive Committee member. Nominations are by due Friday, June 29. You can find more information at https://sites.google.com/a/smarterbalanced.org/home/home/ec-election.

State Decision Summary—K-12 state leads and higher education leads: The draft State Decision Summary discussed at the most recent All States meeting and the recent Higher Education Leads meeting has been circulated for comment and further refinement by the K-12 and Higher Education Leads. The document is also available on the Smarter Balanced Collaboration Site at https://sites.google.com/a/smarterbalanced.org/home/document-library. Please send comments to Jaci King at Jacqueline.King@smarterbalanced.org by Friday, June 29.

Apple makes iPad ready for summative tests—Apple announced this week that iOS 6, the upcoming version of the operating system that powers iPads, will include enhancements to facilitate large-scale secure assessments. The “Guided Access” feature will allow assessment systems to lock down iPads by limiting users to a single application, disabling the home button, and restricting touch input to certain areas of the screen. These features will improve security in a testing environment, preventing students from launching an Internet browser or capturing images of test questions. iOS 6 is compatible with the second- and third-generation iPads. For more information, visit http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/06/12/apple-ios-6-guided-access-boon-for-high-stakes-testing-with-ipads.aspx. An updated version of the Consortium’s New Hardware Purchasing Guidelines includes this information, as well as additional clarifications, and can be found at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/SmarterBalanced_NewHardwareGuidelines.pdf.

CCSSO convenes communications directors—CCSSO’s 2012 Communications Director Network meeting brought together Common Core policy leads and PIOs from about 30 states and territories for a two-day conference in Chicago. The goal was to develop or refine strategic education reform communications plans intended to advance state efforts to prepare all students for college and career. Smarter Balanced participated in a panel discussion on communicating about assessments and hosted a dinner with member state representatives.


Upcoming Events

NCSA meeting—A schedule of presentations during the National Conference on Student Assessment (June 26–29) featuring Consortium members or topics related to the assessment system is available on the Collaboration Site at https://sites.google.com/a/smarterbalanced.org/home/communications.

K-12 Center report on technology and assessments—The K-12 Center at ETS released a new report about how technology impacts assessment through greater accessibility, technology-enhanced items, and personalized learning. Sea Change in Assessment: How Technology Is Transforming K-12 Testing is available at http://k12center.org/rsc/pdf/a-sea-change-in-assessment-letter-size.pdf. The Alliance for Excellent Education and the K-12 Center will host a webinar about the report on June 25, 2012, from 1–2:30 p.m. eastern. The event will feature Kathleen Scalise from the University of Oregon, who participated in a Smarter Balanced webinar on innovative item types, and Test Administration Work Group member Juan D’Brot from the West Virginia Department of Education. Registration is available at http://media.all4ed.org/registration-jun-25-2012.

TAC meeting—The next meeting of the Smarter Balanced Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will occur on July 25–26, 2012, in Denver. As in the past, our member states are welcome to participate in person or virtually via live webinar. Those states wishing to participate in person may send one representative and will be required to use its own funds for transportation, lodging, per diem, and other expenses. If your state is planning to participate in person, please email sbac@wested.org as soon as possible so we can confirm that the meeting space will accommodate all participants.


Resources

Recording of webinar on standard setting available—Joe Willhoft, Executive Director of Smarter Balanced, discussed the process of standard setting (creating achievement level descriptors and determining cut scores) for large-scale assessments. Joe described how standard-setting is typically approached in states and outlined Smarter’s preliminary plans which will begin this summer with the drafting of initial achievement level descriptors. A recording of the June 13 webinar presentation can now be viewed at: https://sites.google.com/a/smarterbalanced.org/home/higher-education/higher-education-webinars.

External website—The Smarter Balanced external website can be found at www.smarterbalanced.org. The site showcases the innovative work of the Consortium and provides frequent updates on activities, milestones, and events. Visitors are able to explore an interactive timeline of activities by school year, download new fact sheets and resources, and sign up for a monthly e-newsletter.

Collaboration Site—Consortium members: The Consortium uses an internal collaboration site hosted by Google Docs to enable information sharing and collaboration among the member states. If you are a state employee in a Consortium state and need access to material on this website, please contact sbac@wested.org.

Relevant news items—State members: Weekly selections of news items relevant to the Consortium are available on the internal Smarter Balanced website at https://sites.google.com/a/smarterbalanced.org/home/communications/news-archive

Smarter Balanced meeting minutes—State members: Agendas and minutes from previously held meetings are available on the internal Smarter Balanced website at https://sites.google.com/a/smarterbalanced.org/home/meetings.


Answering Open Questions


Each week we will address a question or two on the minds of Consortium members. Send your questions to sbac@wested.org.

Will children with limited computer skills—particularly those in the younger grades—be disadvantaged by an online assessment?

Smarter Balanced is committed to developing an assessment system that accurately measures achievement and growth for all students—regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, or background. To achieve this goal, we must eliminate or minimize factors that could distract students from the ability to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. There are several steps the Consortium is taking to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the technology of next-generation assessments:

  • We are conducting cognitive lab research to learn how students across a range of grades approach and interact with different types of computer-administered items. This will inform the development of both assessment items and the test delivery system.
  • Smarter Balanced has developed accessibility guidelines to ensure that items and tasks are designed to work well for as many students as possible, with appropriate accommodations available based on the needs of individual students. It is likely that some accommodations—such as the ability to highlight text—will be available to all students.
  • Our approach to a balanced assessment system—that includes optional interim assessments—will allow students to become familiar with the test interface before taking the summative assessment.

While eliminating distractions and creating an accessible test interface are critical, it is important to remember that the Common Core State Standards emphasize proficiency with technology. For example, the 4th grade writing standard calls for students to “demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.” Administering assessments by computer is a part of ensuring that schools and teachers can measure mastery of the full range of the standards.




March 11, 2012: Online Assessments: Tips, Notes and Resources




Tips for Teachers

Classroom tips for preparing for online assessments:

ü Allow all students to complete the online test simulation (complete this yourself as well to be familiar with what the students are viewing and to know what type of items will be presented to students)

  • Simulation can be found at http://go.ncsu.edu/nctdemo
  • Be aware of individual student accommodation needs and use the simulation of the test to help determine appropriate font size, background colors, etc.

ü Use technology and tools available for your classroom instruction and assessments so that students are familiar with using technology (for formative and benchmarks tests and other classroom activities)

ü Work with your school testing and technology staff to schedule and plan for administering your assessments online

Preparing for online assessments and using technology in the classroom directly relates to Standard IV: Teachers Facilitate Learning for their Students in the teacher evaluation process.


Tips for Technology and Instructional Technology Staff

Technology personnel within an LEA or school have a role in the success of administering online assessments. The availability of technology staff to help with issues or to test and prepare systems is critical for test administration. The following are some best practices for technology staff in preparing for online assessments within their LEA or school.

ü Complete the following device assessments including, but not limited to:

  • browser restraints/compatibility,
  • plug-ins such as Java and others as specified,
  • firewall restrictions,
  • filtering rules,
  • hardware standards, and
  • connection (NCREN NDT tool above).

ü Conduct a basic troubleshooting workshop for all staff administering the online assessment.

ü Confirm component loading and functionality before test administration. Do not perform upgrades during the testing window.

ü Complete the online testing simulation, including all technology staff, teachers and students.

ü Designate and place LEA technical support on alert during testing periods.


Additional technical resources can be found on the Best Practices Guide website, http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/assessment/bpgappendixa.pdf.

Technical Requirements for the current online assessment system are available at https://center.ncsu.edu/nc/mod/page/view.php?id=9271.




Important Notes:

  1. If a student loses connectivity during a test, they can be reconnected and logged-in and it will take them back to the last question answered (test information complete to that point is not lost).
  2. Using the Online Assessment Tutorial is extremely valuable in preparing students and teachers for what to expect in the online testing system.
  3. All Flash based components of the system will be replaced prior to operational testing administrations in 2012-13.


Resources for Online Assessments

Best Practices Guide - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/guide/

The purpose of this document is to serve as a guide to help districts and schools prepare for the transition to online assessments. This guide provides tips and recommendations based on conversations with LEAs and charter schools around the state that have already started this transition and are administering some or all of the current end-of-course tests in the online format.

Quick Reference Guide - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/assessment/assess1pageroct11.pdf

A quick reference guide to the next generation of summative assessments that includes the expected timeline for full implementation of online testing.

SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium - http://www.smarterbalanced.org/

The main website for The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that are aligned to the //Common Core State Standards// and that accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness.

Online Assessment Tutorial - http://go.ncsu.edu/nctdemo

The assessment tutorial shows you how the online testing system works. You can select a test and then practice moving between and answering questions.

NCTest Information - https://center.ncsu.edu/nc/course/view.php?id=361

Information related to the latest version of the online testing system, NCTest v 2.5. Here you can find the technical requirements for the system, information on registration and administration, the assessment tutorial, and other resources related to administering online assessments.

Additional resources can be found on the online assessment resources page at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/resources/.



March 7, 2012: Benefits of Online Assessments


Next Generation Assessments: Benefits of Online Assessments

There are several benefits to administering assessments online versus a paper and pencil option. By moving to online assessment, we can offer assessments that are increasingly multi-part, media-enhanced and performance based, and which better represent the depth intended in the new standards. Another benefit is the availability of Computer Reads Test Aloud – Student Controlled accommodation for eligible students. The online assessments also offer several universal design features such as larger font sizes and adjustable background colors. The following is a list of benefits of the new online assessments.

Universal Design


Designed for increased accessibility

One item per test page

Large font

Foreground/background color schemes

Virtual highlighter and calculator


- Computer Reads Test Aloud – Student Controlled Accommodation

- Student Engagement

- Technology Enhanced/Interactive Items

- Flexible scheduling/staffing (decreased test time and changes to testing windows)

- Storage Space

- Test Security

- Reporting

- Environmentally Friendly

- Cost-effective


To learn more about the benefits and timeline for transitioning to online assessments, please visit the online assessment website at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/online/.


MORE INFO: Kayla Siler, kayla.siler@dpi.nc.gov

Released Items

http://www.k12.wa.us/SMARTER/ContentSpecs/ELA-LiteracyContentSpecificationsAppend.pdf

http://www.k12.wa.us/SMARTER/ContentSpecs/MathContentSpecifications.pdf



February 28, 2012: Test Specifications for the Next Generation of Assessments


Specifications for the Next Generation of Assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and the North Carolina Essential Standards for Science are now available. Information on the prioritization of the standards, cognitive rigor, item complexity, item types, and assessment delivery modes is included.
http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/online/


February 23, 2012: Next Generation Assessments: Resources for the Online Transition

To help districts and schools prepare for the next generation assessments and the transition to online, there are a number of resources available.

Best Practices Guide - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/guide/

The purpose of this document is to serve as a guide to help districts and schools prepare for the transition to online assessments. This guide provides tips and recommendations based on conversations with LEAs and charter schools around the state that have already started this transition and are administering some or all of the current end-of-course tests in the online format.

Quick Reference Guide - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/assessment/assess1pageroct11.pdf

A quick reference guide to the next generation of summative assessments that includes the expected timeline for full implementation of online testing.

SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium - http://www.smarterbalanced.org/

The main website for The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and that accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness.

Online Assessment Tutorial - https://center.ncsu.edu/nctest/NCTestSim.html#StudentSignIn

The assessment tutorial shows you how the online testing system works. You can select a test and then practice moving between and answering questions.

NCTest Information - https://center.ncsu.edu/nc/course/view.php?id=361

Information related to the latest version of the online testing system, NCTest v 2.5. Here you can find the technical requirements for the system, information on registration and administration, the assessment tutorial, and other resources related to administering online assessments.

Additional resources can be found on the online assessment resources page at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/resources/.

Contact: Kayla Siler, kayla.siler@dpi.nc.gov

January 30, 2012: Philip Price Addresses Northwest Principals' Advisory Council


Timeline for standards and assessments - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/timeline/timeline.pdf

Online Assessment quick reference - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/assessment/assess1pageroct11.pdf



December 14, 2011: Assessment Updates from Dr. June Atkinson, State Superintendent

As you know developing “common assessments” for statewide use in the non-tested subject areas is an important part of implementing our state's new teacher effectiveness and evaluation model. In fact, more than 800 teachers and others are involved in developing these common assessments to ensure that the products are on target and appropriate. To assist in this area, the NCDPI has entered into two local partnerships that will help the educator work groups more this work forward efficiently and effectively. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Wake County Public Schools have agreed to partner with the NCDPI and the educator work groups to share assessment materials that they have already developed in their districts. This will provide the educator work groups with a rich array of assessment items to review and consider along with other vendor-produced materials in order to develop the common assessments. We also welcome any other school district having developed assessments or common exams to join with us in this partnership. I want to extend a special thanks to Wake Superintendent Tony Tata and CMS Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh for their willingness to be collaborative partners in this area. All of us will benefit as a result.

June Atkinson

State Superintendent


What will Next Generation Assessments be Like?

Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, the new Common Core State and NC Essential Standards will be taught and assessed in all North Carolina public schools. Schools are currently participating in the stand-alone field tests for the new assessments in ELA, Math and Science. Test specifications are available on the website to describe the information that will be included in the new assessments (by content area and grade level). You can find the new assessments specifications at www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/online/ .



Additional information available on the online assessment website includes a quick reference document about the Next Generation of Assessments. This document describes the benefits of the new assessments and the timeline for administration, references the alignment with the SMARTER Balanced Assessments, and provides additional resources for more information about plans for the transition to these new assessments. You can find the quick reference document at www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/assessment/assess1pageroct11.pdf .



December 7, 2011: Accountability Reporting Updates -- Jo Ann Honeycutt, NCDPI -- NWRESA Principals' Council

December 6, 2011: Accountability Updates - Presentation from November Curriculum Meeting in Greensboro

December 5, 2011: Updates from the Online Assessment Workgroup

Online Assessment Quick Reference - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/assessment/assess1pageroct11.pdf

Test Specifications (ELA, Mathematics, and Science) – http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/online/

Online Assessment Best Practices Guide - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/assessment/guide/

General Assessment Information (EOCs) - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/testing/eoc/

General Assessment Information (EOGs) - http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/testing/eog/

Online Assessment (NCTest Info – tutorial, video, tech requirements, etc) - https://center.ncsu.edu/nc/course/view.php?id=361

You can also feel free to direct questions to acre-feedback@dpi.nc.gov

November 17: Please provide your feedback on the New Accountability Model no later than November 30!


November 16: SMARTER Balanced Sample Assessment Items

November 1: NCTest Preview: This site houses a sample assessment prototypes for online delivery.