I am a sixth-grade teacher in Tracy Unified School District, and I have worked fairly extensively on the Common Core transition. I would like to respond to Scott Hurban’s letter on July 19 about Common Core testing and the Smarter Balanced testing system. I would like to clarify some misinformation that he stated.
The Smarter Balanced Test will be given to students in grades three through eight and 11, not just grades three, eight and 11 only. Smarter Balanced will be asking our students to demonstrate their knowledge in a more demanding way. Even students who formerly scored very well on bubble tests may find themselves at a loss to explain why an answer works rather than simply give an answer in math.
If you are curious about the new tests, they are now available online for the public to peruse. There are sample tests and released questions. You can find them at www.smarterbalanced.org/news/smarter-balanced-releases-online-practice-tests. There is a link in the text for the tests themselves. (Not all states will use the Smarter Balanced test; there is one other testing instrument, called the PARCC, about which I am less familiar.)
Overall, I am very excited about the transition to the Common Core State Standards. As I have implemented Common Core lessons in my own classroom, my students have risen to the challenge in amazing and encouraging ways.