The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.
Starting in the spring of the 2014-15 school year, students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take the new Smarter Balanced tests in English language arts (ELA) and math.
But Smarter Balanced is more than just a once-a-year test. It’s a system, made up of three components:
The Digital Library contains professional development materials designed to help teachers. These on-demand materials will be aligned to the Washington State Learning Standards in ELA and math. It will also include an online collaboration platform to give educators a place to share what’s working in their classrooms.
Interim assessments are optional. They are flexible, non-secure periodic assessments to be offered at teachers’ and schools’ discretion throughout the school year. These computer-based tests will provide meaningful feedback that teachers can use to help students succeed.
Interim assessments are expected to be available this winter.
Summative assessments are required. They will take place during the last 12 weeks of the school year. These computer-based tests will help schools evaluate how well their students performed by comparing them with students from other schools across the nation. The end-of-year assessments also will 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.
The Washington State Legislature has provided funds to pay for all schools to have access to all three components. The only cost that might not be fully covered by the state is the cost of the summative test in paper/pencil format (an option available to schools for the first three years). The fee for the paper/pencil summative tests is $6 per test or $12 for ELA and math.
Smarter Balanced assessments scheduled for 11th grade students this spring.
Washington 11th graders who score at a college-ready level on the new "Smarter Balanced Assessments" this spring will automatically place into college-level math and English language classes when they enroll at a college. This is a result of a statewide agreement signed by Washington’s community and technical colleges and public four-year universities.
Students who score at the top two levels – levels 3 and 4 – on the assessments will be able to skip the standard placement tests which are typically given when students enroll in college. Students will find out earlier if they are on track to take college entry level or remedial classes. Students then have their senior year to either catch up or take even more advanced classes. Transition courses to help students increase their math and English language arts knowledge are being developed by OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction), the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and participating universities with a $3.2 million grant. Passing this test is not a graduation requirement.
The new “Smarter Balanced Assessments” will measure whether 11th-graders are on-track toward meeting Common Core State Standards (https://www.k12.wa.us/Corestandards/default.aspx), rigorous new math and English language arts standards aimed at preparing students to be college and career ready. Most states, including Washington, have adopted the new standards to eliminate state-to-state differences in education and to advance education in the nation. Washington has included the Common Core standards as part of our state learning standards, Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), which define what all students should know and be able to do at each grade level:https://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/learningstandards.aspx. Each school district chooses their own curriculum to reach these standards.