Just The facts about the SBAC

Amber Penick

Through the years teachers and schools test their students to find what skills they have mastered and see what they still need to learn.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, also known as the SBAC, is a computer based test that was created in California to assess what students know. In Washington, the SBAC was implemented for the 2014-2015 school year. Being its first year in effect, most students in Washington have no clue what the SBAC is all about.

The test has three components which include an English Language Arts portion and a Math portion. Though Washington provides funds for schools to access all three components on the computer, the paper/pencil format costs six dollars per test component or twelve dollars for ELA and Math.

It replaces paper assessments for grades three through eight in addition to eleventh grade.  The tests provide a wider range of questions for students to answer that are more accurate in identifying skills students have mastered.

Students are challenged to demonstrate their critical thinking and problem solving skills to apply to the real-world. It also addresses appropriate expectations for high school graduates to prepare for success after high school.

By measuring the student’s growth, teachers are provided with information that can help them guide the student’s learning. The SBAC can tell if a student is on track to pursue college. Results are available within three weeks after taking the test.

Washington has ten reasons why it decided to introduce the SBAC to their schools. One of them includes the test preparing students for college. Questions are individually tailored to students to quickly identify their understanding of material. The test has three levels of support to accommodate all students, including students with disabilities and English language learners.

The scoring of tests is based on a higher expectation of students skills. Proficiency rates will be lower at first, but will improve as students adjust to the college standards. It also is used for course level placement in college and can replace tests, such as the COMPASS.

Teachers are involved with test development and help set achievement levels. They also can access educator approved materials and use optional interim assessments to track student’s progress.

The SBAC takes advantage of each members state’s technical, practical and political expertise to ensure a blend of everyone. Washington saves six million dollars per year by giving the SBAC as opposed to other tests, such as the HSPE.

Parents do have the option to opt out their child from the SBAC, but it is not recommended because it will result in the child receiving a “zero” and can affect the school. So far at Auburn High School five students have been opted out of the test. At this point the SBAC is not a graduation requirement, so it will not affect whether or not a student receives a diploma.