Follow the testing maze: Common Core will bring plenty of changes

Idaho Core Standards — a more exacting set of standards working their way through Idaho classrooms this year — will also bring changes to Idaho public school achievement testing beginning in spring.

Luci Willits, Idaho Department of Education chief of staff, briefed lawmakers on coming changes at the K-12 legislative interim committee Wednesday.

Not all the details are figured out.

But here is what we know.

– In spring, students in grades 3-11 will take a field test from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of about 26 states working on assessments. Scores won’t count for students or be used by the state to determine how well schools are performing. It’s a chance for the state to field test questions. Several states will take the exam.Idaho students  will have 40-50 questions in math and language arts. Students will answer question drawn from a pool of 22,000 items in a test bank.

– Testing will take place over seven weeks in April and May. Testing time: seven to eight-and-a-half hours over several days.

– Beginning in 2014-2015, students will take a test that counts. But they won’t get the same exam. The achievement exams are called adaptive tests, which means that that when a student answers a question correctly, the next question will be harder. If they miss it, the next question will be easier. State officials say it gives them a sharper picture of student performance.

– The new exams are expected to become the state’s next round of graduation tests.  But they will be phased in over the next several years.

Classes of 2014 and 2015 — if students pass the existing Idaho Standards Achievement Test in the 9th or 10th grades,  they will have met the goal. If not, they can retake the ISAT.

Class of 2016: — if students pass the  ISAT in 9th grade, will meet the graduation requirement. If they don’t, they work with their district to find an alternative way to be assessed.

Classes of 2017 and 2018 — students will have to pass the Smarter Balanced Assessment, given in 11th grade.  Under the ISAT testing, students took their graduation test in 10th grade, which gave them two years to pass it if they were not successful.  The new testing schedule cuts that time to a year, but that could change, state officials say.

Posted in In The Classroom