East Hawaii News

DOE Launching Spring ‘Smarter Balanced’ Assessments

January 12, 2015, 1:27 PM HST
* Updated January 12, 5:19 PM
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Big Island public schools are among those in the state who will be taking part in new state-wide assessments in the coming spring, the Hawai’i State Department of Education announced on Monday.

The assessments, known as Smarter Balanced, will focus on English language arts and math, testing students on their reading, math, writing, listening, research, and thinking skills. The assessments are aligned to the Hawai’i Common Core standards that were implemented at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

Smarter Balanced assessments will begin being administered in March to students grade three through eight, as well as high school juniors.

A letter outlining the assessments, including sample exercises and details of critical thinking questions, was sent to parents Monday, as public school students returned from their 3-week Winter Break.

“New expectations for student learning mean we need new ways to measure how our students are performing,” Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. “These new test measure not only what students know, but also how well they can apply their knowledge in real-world situations.”

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According to the DOE, Hawai’i is part of a multi-state consortium that works with teachers, parents, and higher education faculty to create and develop the assessments.

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Field tests conducted last year included the participation of over three million students across the consortium to ensure valid, reliable and fair questions for all students.

“While this is a step forward in our plans to raise student achievement, we expect the change to the new test will result in lower scores as compared to previous years,” Matayoshi said. “However, because it is a new test aligned to new standards, we will not be comparing the results to that of the old test. Results from this year are a new starting point for the students.”

Results from the assessments are expected to benefit teachers, offering data and information to give teachers and parents a better picture of where students are thriving and where they need help.

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