New Test Format Positive Progress

Katie Erickson, Staff Writer

Replacing the dreaded STAR tests, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is being initiated in the Acalanes Union High School District. Smarter Balanced is a test that evaluates students readiness for future college and careers. This state-led inquiry’s goal is to measure the progress of students and to align assessments with the Common Core State Standards.

Offering many benefits, the Smarter Balanced test is a positive change from the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) test, which was the previous state-led evaluation of student’s progress.

Since it is computerized, Smarter Balanced provides a hands-on and engaging experience. Instead of filling in hundreds of small, identical bubbles on a dull Scantron test score sheet, the colored, moving pictures allow for a more interesting and intriguing test. Technology is integrated into almost all aspects of high school students lives. By taking the test on the computer, students will be in a more familiar and relaxing atmosphere.

The Smarter Balanced Test is also more engaging. Instead of just multiple choice questions, like the STAR test, there are also open-ended portions. Unlike the STAR exam, listening sections, paragraph segments, matching fragments and true and false questions are integrated into the test as well.

The larger variety of ways students are being tested is a more accurate measurement of what students know because each student excels in different types of testing situation, with some shining in open-ended paragraph questions, and others in multiple choice formats. This exam format ensures that students have the opportunity to triumph in those areas for which they are best suited.

Although the open-ended questions may be more difficult, the challenge allows students to push themselves and utilize the skills that they have learned throughout the year. The exam improves critical thinking by offering no answers to the questions because students have to comprehend the question and formulate their own answer.

Ultimately, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is a positive change from the STAR test and has many beneficial attributes.