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Smarter Balanced Assessment more challening that Dakota Step

January 22. 2014 10:47AM
Students in South Dakota will be piloting a new statewide assessment system that is planned to replace the Dakota Step assessment that has been used in the past.

These statewide assessments are used to comply with federal requirements associated with the No Child Left Behind law. The new assessment is being developed by the Smarter Balanced Consortium and is being designed to assess the math and English/language arts standards adopted by the State Board of Education in South Dakota.

The new Smarter Balanced Assessment will be an online test, which will be different from the paper and pencil tests we have previously administered. This is a major change for our students and is one of the reasons we are piloting the process this year. The Smarter Balanced Consortium also needs the test items to be piloted so it can do the statistical tests for validity and reliability.

The new assessment will be given beginning in the middle of March.

In the past, with the Dakota Step, individual student results were available in the fall. Since this is a pilot of the assessment, there will not be individual results this year. The State is hoping that having a year to “practice” the online test will result in more valid results in 2014-15 when the test will “count” and be reported to parents, the community, State and federal authorities.

Many who have seen items from the Smarter Balanced Assessment report that this will be a much more challenging test for our students. However, those same people believe the increased rigor will be helpful in providing data to improve instruction and take student achievement to higher levels over time. It will be interesting to see how our students react to the online, more rigorous challenges they will face.

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