Frequently Asked Questions
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How does the Smarter Balanced assessment work?
The Smarter Balanced Assessment is offered once per year in the spring. It is administered for English/Language Arts and Math to students in grades 3 - 8 and 11. Both Math and English/Language arts have two parts.
- A computer adaptive test (CAT)
- A performance task (PT)
Both the CAT and the PT are delivered on a computer. The CAT contains a variety of test item types including multiple choice, matching, short answer and longer answer questions. The PT requires students to answer a set of complex questions that are centered on a common topic or problem.
When do students take the test?
The testing window for the Smarter Balanced Assessment is normally between March - June. Individual schools will schedule tests within these windows based on school needs. Teachers and/or school Principals will provide information to students and parents as to their schools' testing schedules. If you have questions about the testing schedule at your student's school, contact your school directly.
How long will the assessment take?
Smarter Balanced year-end summative assessments are not timed. Students may take as much time as they need to complete the tests. Normally, the total time required to complete all portions of the assessments (math + ELA; both the CAT and the PT) is approximately 4 hours. Testing will occur in multiple sessions, so students will typically spend one to two hours per day on the assessments over several days. The tests are not timed so students may take as long as they need to complete the tests.
What happens if a student is absent on test day?
If your student is absent on a day when his or her school is administering tests, make-up days will be scheduled so that all students may complete the assessments.
Are calculators allowed on the assessments?
Calculators are not allowed at grades 3, 4, and 5. This is because of the computation nature of many of the standards at these grade levels. Calculators are sometimes allowed at grades 6, 7, 8, and 11. Students may only use the online calculator and it is available for designated problems. If the calculator icon is not present on the computer screen during the test, then a calculator is not allowed for that test item. Grade 6 includes a 4-function calculator, grades 7 and 8 includes a scientific calculator and grade 11 includes a graphing calculator with regression capability when appropriate.
Unlike some previous assessments, students are not allowed to use a personal calculator during the test except in some cases where a disability requires the student to use a personal calculator.
Does a student need to "pass" the test to go up a grade or to graduate from high school?
Absolutely not. Students do not "pass" or "fail" these assessments. Instead, their score determines their overall performance level on the assessment. A performance level of 3 or 4 indicates that a student is on track for college and career readiness. Performance levels lower that a 3 indicate that the student may need some additional help in certain areas of their studies in order to be on track. Clear, understandable test scores help teachers and parents work together to adjust their approach and better meet students’ needs. These assessments also provide data that schools use to determine where they may need to improve instruction to better help students stay on track for career and college. The assessments also help empower families by providing them with a clear indication of how well their children are progressing toward mastering the academic knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness. Students should be encouraged to "do their absolute best" on the assessments so that they are an accurate measure of what students have learned and so that teachers better understand the areas where students might need extra help.
What about Smarter Balanced and the Essential Skills graduation requirements?
There are three assessment options (statewide assessment, work samples, and other standardized assessments) that may be used as evidence of meeting essential skills for graduation. As a state assessment, Smarter Balanced is one of the three options for meeting essential skills. For more details about the Smarter Balanced assessment as it relates to graduation requirements, visit ODE’s webpage at http://www.oregon.gov/ode/educator-resources/essentialskills/Pages/default.aspx
What about students with disabilities and English language learners?
The Smarter Balanced assessment system provides accurate measures of achievement and growth for students with disabilities and English language learners. The assessments addresses visual, auditory, and physical access barriers–as well as the unique needs of English language learners–allowing virtually all students to demonstrate what they know and can do.
When will families receive the results of the Smarter Balanced assessment?
Portions of the Smarter Balanced assessment must be hand-scored by trained educators. This work takes place throughout the testing season and into the early summer. The district will include test results with student report cards mailed to homes if they are available at that time. Most are included except for a few late testers and tests that are partially completed. If you do not recieve test results along with your child's report card, please contact your child's school once school resumes in the fall.
What if I don’t want my student to take the test?
There are no penalties for performance on these assessments and they help students, parents and families to better understand their students’ learning and their readiness for career and college. These assessments are extremely valuable tools for teachers, principals and other school and district staff to help better learn and understand areas where schools can improve. State assessments are one of a number of tools used to help improve instruction for all students in our district. If you have concerns about your student taking the Smarter Balanced assessment, please discuss your concerns with your students’ teacher and/or the school Principal. They will be able to provide you with information about the opt-out process and required forms and letters. Additional information about state testing exemption options may be found on the Oregon Department of Education website.
Who do I ask if I have more questions about the Smarter Balanced Assessment?
Check out the other links on this site for more information about Smarter Balanced. You may also contact teachers or school Principals to ask specific questions about how testing will roll out in your school.