Monday, December 3, 2012

Common Core Test Shortened

Much gnashing of teeth in the edu-world when it was announced that the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests were going to be well over 8 hours. This is due to the the performance tasks - but they have now shortened the test as noted in EdWeek -


"From an original design that included multiple, lengthy performance tasks, the test has been revised to include only one performance task in each subject—mathematics and English/language arts—and has been tightened in other ways, reducing its length by several hours.
The final blueprint of the assessment, approved by the consortium last week now estimates it will take seven hours in grades 3-5, 7½ hours in grades 6-8, and 8½ hours in grade 11.
Earlier this fall, states’ worries about too much testing time had prompted the group to offer a choice: a “standard” version of the assessment—6½ to 8 hours—or an “extended” one, which would run 10½ to 13 hours, with more items to facilitate more-detailed feedback on student performance.
Persistent doubts about that plan, however, led to further discussions and a decision to expand the shorter version by about 30 minutes and make it the only one offered, consortium officials said.
While many states saw value in having more performance tasks on the test, the amount of information they could yield didn’t justify the additional testing hours, said Carissa Miller, the deputy superintendent for assessment, content, and school choice in Idaho, and the co-chairwoman of the SBAC executive committee. Including even one such task—which requires students to tackle longer, more complex math problems and write essays based on reading multiple texts—represents a major improvement in most states’ assessment systems, she said."
My concern is that the lengthy tests will give the anti-testing groups some serious ammunition. The odd teaming of teacher unions and ultra-conservatives that sent Tony Bennett is not unlike the  anti-testing nuts merging with the staunchly conservative local control types. 
We need great testing data - but we have to ensure that people understand that we can only have that data when, as David Coleman put it, "we have assessments that stop lying to students - so that we no longer tell them they are on track for college when they are not even close."