SBAC Testing Sparks Debate

Juniors first group to take Smarter Balanced Assessment

Jacky Tsang

Staff Writer

In 2010, the U.S Department of Education presented $330 million to two educational institutions; one of the two institution that received the money is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, SBAC for short.

SBAC is a service provided mainly by the University of California, Los Angeles. Its purpose is to develop a new method that assesses the knowledge of students with a reliable and fair system. This assessment will provide the information necessary to determine whether the student is learning the proper material in school and to see if the student is ready for college.

“[SBAC] is an institution that creates the tests that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards,” Assistant Principal Mrs. Melsby said. “It is my understanding that those who wrote the standards were concerned with what students should learn—that was their focus.”

In previous years, the school required students to take a similar test, called STAR. Two years ago, SBAC issued a mock math test for students to take. From the results, the institution took the opportunity to make any necessary changes before implementing it into the school curriculum.

“Our old STAR test used to determine a school’s API; however, because SBAC is so new, it will not be used to judge a school yet,” Melsby said. “But I believe the state’s plan is to review the results, see how things go, allow schools to adjust to the new tests and standards before trying to implement a system that uses the results to ‘grade’ a school.”

The sole purpose of SBAC is to help students ready themselves for college and future career choices. However,  junior Devon Maddex, felt that SBAC was just another useless test that the school requires students to do.

“The testing itself gives the impression of another boring school task to accomplish and does not make me want to try my hardest, or put in lots of time and effort towards something that is painstakingly drab,” Maddex said.

In addition, Maddex though that this test was not interesting, thereby making it tedious work.

“I feel that SBAC testing is not crafted well in terms of grabbing the attention of a high school student,” Maddex said. “Often times, the questions require lengthy passages to read while the questions themselves ranged from very specific to extremely broad and difficult to understand.”

Although SBAC’s goal is to focus on learning material, many students, including junior Claudia Vu, expressed that this test did not actually prove to be effective. During the test, Vu faced many difficulties that distracted her from focusing on the test.

“Doing the test on a computer slowed me down personally,” Vu said. “Using the mouse and keyboard can get tiring and tedious, which is why I prefer the traditional STAR test because I can stay more focused.”

Vu also thought taking SBAC right after AP Testing was a poor choice. Many juniors, like Vu missed several days of classes; as a result, they missed lectures and work assigned by the teachers.

“It’s hard to catch up on all the school work teachers assigned; I was gone for many days because of AP Testing and SBAC, so now I have to catch up with learning the lessons I missed as well as the work.”

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