More than 360 schools in Missouri are participating in a pilot program this spring to test a new assessment system based on the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math.
The Smarter Balanced assessments, for students in third through eleventh grades. Students are currently being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of 24 states that includes Missouri. More than one million students across the country will take part in the pilot during April and May.
As a member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Missouri has played a key role in creating the assessment system. Educators in Missouri have participated in the development and review of test questions and specifications.
The pilot will allow the Smarter Balanced group to evaluate the new online testing system under real-world conditions. The pilot test will not be used to report on student learning, but will provide information for developing additional test questions and fine-tuning the assessment system.
"The pilot test will help ensure that schools will be able to effectively assess students' progress toward acquiring the knowledge and skills they need for the future," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "The new assessment system will give parents, teachers and policy makers better tools and information they can use to increase student achievement."
The Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced assessments are designed to prepare students for college, other postsecondary training and a career. K-12 teachers and administrators and faculty from two- and four-year colleges and universities throughout the country have been working with the Smarter Balance group to ensure the assessments will measure the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed at college-level coursework.
The new tests will include multiple choice questions, constructed response questions and performance tasks that measure critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Schools throughout Missouri have begun implementing the Common Core State Standards, which were developed through a state-led effort by teachers, parents and education experts and adopted by the Missouri State Board of Education in 2010. The Smarter Balanced assessments will begin during the 2014-15 school year.
All schools will have the opportunity to participate in practice tests, beginning this summer, to give staff and students experience with the Smarter Balanced assessments. The practice tests can also be used to show parents, policy makers and community members how the new assessment system will work.
Preparing students for college and careers is a primary goal of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for education in Missouri to rank among the Top 10 states in the nation by the year 2020.