EGUSD Testing Update

EGUSD Spring 2015 SBAC Testing Window: March 2, 2015 – June 26, 2015

This spring, students in grades three through eight and eleven will take part in the first statewide administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which are part of an overall testing system called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). The Smarter Balanced Assessments are computer-based tests that will replace the former paper-based, multiple-choice assessments in English language arts/literacy and math.

Because the things we want students to know and be able to do have changed, our tests must change as well.

The tests are an academic check-up, designed to give teachers feedback they need to improve instruction and the tools to improve teaching and learning. The assessments will use computer adaptive technology to provide more accurate information about individual student performance. And because the tests are taken online, information will be available to teachers, schools, and school districts on a timely basis so it can be used to help students learn.

Student testing dates are school specific and may vary some site to site. For information on your student’s SBAC test dates, contact your student’s school.

Scores: Re-setting the System

Like the new academic standards, the new tests are too fundamentally different from the old exams to make any reliable comparisons between old scores and new. In many cases, new textbooks and materials have only recently arrived at schools. That’s why this year’s test results will only establish a baseline for the progress we expect students to make over time.

Based on trial runs of some test questions in California and other states, many if not most students will need to make significant progress to reach the standards set for math and literacy that accompany college and career readiness.

No student, parent, or teacher should be discouraged by scores, which will never be used to determine whether a student moves on to the next grade. Rather, the results will provide an opportunity to focus on the needs of students and support teachers and schools in their work.

Patience and Persistence

California’s new assessment system represents the next step in our comprehensive plan to promote high-quality teaching and learning and improve student outcomes. This plan recognizes that assessments can play a role in promoting high-quality instruction.

Teachers in California support these changes because, unlike in other states, the primary purpose of testing here is to support learning, not to impose high-stakes consequences. This approach fits well with California’s new system for funding our schools, which recognizes that decisions about education dollars are best made by parents, teachers, and communities themselves.

In a state as diverse and complex as California, adjustments will always be needed to make lasting progress. Patience and persistence will be required to help our schools continue to succeed during this time of transition.

Helpful Documents:

Testing History and Background

As part of the move to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the State of California is moving to a new statewide assessment system. The new assessments focus on CCSS and are administered through a computerized testing system being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).This new system is called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) program. It replaces the former Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system. This new testing system is intended to empower students and parents by providing them with a clear indication of how well their children are progressing toward mastering the academic knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness.

Initially, some of the former paper and pencil tests will continue as part of the new CAASPP program. However, some tests, such as English Language Arts and math, will be replaced by new tests that are aligned with the CCSS. These new tests move away from traditional paper and pencil to computer-based exams.

The State is rolling out the CAASPP program over multiple years starting this spring. Part of this rollout includes a trial-run computer-based field test in English Language Arts and math given in the spring of 2014 for students in grades 3-8, and in grades 9-11 at selected schools. These tests will include multiple choice questions, but they will also ask students to fill in tables, drag and drop answers, graph and write paragraphs and long essays. The field tests will help the State learn whether the questions are fair to all students and whether they measure what students are expected to learn. Scores will not be calculated by the State or provided to parents, teachers, schools or districts.

Background on SBAC Field Tests

On October 2, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 484 into law. AB 484 initiates a trial run field test in the spring of 2014 for students in grades 3-11. The tests will be administered between March 18 and June 6, 2014.

According to a recent letter from State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, “The recent passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 484 provides California with a unique opportunity to focus more fully on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) during this transition year. In large part, it does this by replacing the requirement for local education agencies (LEAs) to administer the California Standards Tests and California Modified Assessments for English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics with the requirement to participate in the spring 2014 Smarter Balanced Consortium Field Test.95% of students will take a sampling of both ELA and mathematics items plus one performance task for each subject. The remaining 5% of students will take either ELA or mathematics items plus one performance task for either subject. No student, school, or district scores will be produced from the tests.”

About the Spring 2014 Field Test

What is the purpose of the spring 2014 Smarter Balanced Field Test?
Field testing is critical to ensure that assessment items are accessible to all students and produce results that are valid, reliable, and fair. The spring 2014 Smarter Balanced Field Test will test the performance of over 20,000 newly developed test items and evaluate the test delivery system. Items deemed suitable for use on the live (i.e., operational) tests, which will begin in the 2014-2015 school year, will be used to populate the test item bank. Also, the field test will help ensure that the Smarter Balanced assessment items are placed on an accurate scale to determine final achievement levels as well as their corresponding descriptors.

What test will the Smarter Balanced Field Test be replacing and what tests will still be in place?
AB 484 establishes the measurement of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) program to replace the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system of assessments. The 2013-2014 school year is a transitional year for assessment under CAASPP in which schools will participate in a broad field test of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests, administer grade level science California Standards Tests (CST) and California Modified Assessments (CMA), evaluate college readiness using the Early Assessment Program (EAP), and assess students with disabilities using the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA).

What state standardized tests will students no longer take in the spring of 2014?
The 2013-2014 school year is a transitional year for assessment under CAASPP. The paper and pencil California Standards Tests (CST) in English Language Arts and math will no longer be administered except as an option for 11th graders who choose to take the Early Assessment Program (EAP) test for college readiness. In addition, the California Modified Assessments (CMA) for English Language Arts and math will no longer be administered.

What state standardized tests will still be in place in the spring of 2014?
The following state standardized tests will be administered as traditional paper and pencil tests:

Science in Grades 5, 8, and 10

  • Grades 5 and 8: CST/CMA/CAPA grade level science
  • Grade 10: CST/CMA/CAPA grade level Life Science

CAPA in Grades 2-11

  • Grades 2-11: English Language Arts and math
  • Grades 5, 8, and 10: Grade level science (also described in science above)

Optional EAP in Grade 11

  • English Language Arts CST with augmented items and separate writing component
  • Algebra II and High School Summative Mathematics CSTs with augmented items

Who will take the computer-based field test?

  • Grades 3-8: All students are expected to participate.
  • Grades 9-10: Only students in schools selected for the scientific sample are expected to participate.
  • Grade 11: Only students in schools selected for the scientific sample are expected to participate. (Please note that all grade 11 students, including those who participate in the Field Test, may participate in the Early Assessment Program.)

The only students exempt from participating from the Smarter Balanced Field Tests outlined above include students who will take the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) and; for the English-Language Arts (ELA) field test only, English learners who have attended school in the United States for less than 12 months.

When will the field tests be administered?
The tests will be administered between March 18 and June 6, 2014.

How will the field tests be administered?
The field tests will be computer-adaptive, which means each student will receive a unique test that delivers questions more closely aligned to their ability level.  The SBAC tests are dynamic, not static. For pen and paper tests, students are given a static test—an unchanging set of items. The difficulty with a static test is that the test is constructed completely independent of student ability.  It therefore must have test questions that are distributed over a broad range of difficulty. With the new SBAC assessments, students are first asked a question of moderate difficulty.  If the student answers correctly, the student is asked a question of slightly higher difficulty—if the student answers incorrectly, the student is given an easier item.

Schools throughout California that participated in the 2013 SBAC scientific pilot (in preparation for the Field Test in Spring 2014) found that students had a hard time concentrating on items for extended periods. For this reason, testing periods are frequently segmented into 30-45 minute blocks for a total of about 3.5 hours.

The following EGUSD schools participated in the state wide 2013 SBAC scientific pilot:

  • Charles Mack Elementary School
  • Florence Markofer Elementary School
  • Foulks Ranch Elementary School
  • Franklin High School
  • Herman Leimbach Elementary School
  • John Ehrhardt Elementary School
  • Joseph Kerr Middle School
  • Katherine L. Albiani Middle School
  • Robert J. Fite Elementary School
  • Sierra Enterprise Elementary School

What if my child needs more than the time allotted to complete the test? What provisions will be given?
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium strives to provide every student with a positive and productive assessment experience, generating results that are a fair and accurate estimate of each student’s achievement. For this reason the tests are untimed and provisions will be made to accommodate students who require more than the estimatee amount of time.

Will there be a paper-and-pencil version of the field test?
No. The field test is meant to “test the test,” mimicking as close as possible the operational testing conditions. Therefore, the field test is strictly computer-based. However, once these new tests are rolled out more fully in 2014-2015 school year, a paper-and-pencil version will be available for up to three years to provide ample opportunity to build a sound technology infrastructure.

What can school communities expect to learn from the administration of the field test?
There are three important outcomes for schools that are anticipated from the field tests:

  • Students will have hands-on experience with a computer-based assessment
  • Teachers and administrators will be exposed to the test administration logistics
  • Districts will learn where technology gaps exist and what needs to be accomplished prior to 2014-2015 testing

Will I receive my student’s Field Test results?
No.  The field test is designed to measure how test items function in order to develop complete and adaptive testing forms for use in 2014-15 and beyond—this information is required to develop valid and reliable scores. Additionally, because the field test is being conducted primarily to develop item information, students will not be administered a sufficient amount of items to generate a proper score—students are essentially taking only half of the test. For these reasons, student level scores cannot be generated by the state and will thus be unavailable for distribution to districts, schools, parents, or students.

How is the District preparing for the technology component of the test?
The District has developed a plan to bring in over 2,000 Chromebooks for the Spring 2014 Field Tests and another 6,000 in time for the full implementation of testing in Spring 2015. Each school will develop its own testing schedule and will use a combination of the new Chromebooks in the classrooms and existing computer labs. The new Chromebooks will be the school’s property and will not only be able to be used for testing, but also for teaching and learning during the school year. EGUSD is also installing and upgrading its wireless network to accommodate the new testing requirements.

How will my student know how to take the new test?
Students will be taking practice tests with their teachers using the technology prior to the field test to ensure they feel comfortable with the new assessments.


The California Department of Education (CDE) recently produced two videos that provide information to middle school and high school students about the Smarter Balanced Field Test. The videos introduce students to the Field Test and explain the significant contribution they will make in helping to create the operational tests for the 2014–2015 school year.

CDE – Grades 6-8 Smarter Balanced Field Test Video


CDE – High School Smarter Balanced Field Test Video

Resource Links

Smarter Balanced Web Page
Downloadable fact sheets for teachers, parents, and students.

Smarter Balanced Spanish Web Page
Downloadable fact sheets for teachers, parents, and students. Description of research that helped design assessment items that reduce linguistic burdens.

Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines
Developed with help from Consortium state members, English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities advisory committees, as well as content area specialists, the Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines describe the proposed supports for Smarter Balanced assessments.

Smarter Balanced Field Test Questions and Answers
California Department of Education – Questions and answers about the Smarter Balanced Field Test that will be administered in spring 2014.

Assembly Bill 484 Questions and Answers
California Department of Education  – Questions and answers regarding Assembly Bill (AB) 484, which establishes California’s new statewide student assessment system. AB 484 was signed into law on October 2, 2013.

Smarter Balanced Parent  Fact Sheet

Smarter Balanced Comparative Fact Sheet