DOE’s Director of Assessment and Accountability discusses Growth Model Work Group progress

USDA proposes nutrition rules for foods sold in schools; submit comments now
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule on nutrition standards for all foods sold in school was published in the Federal Register earlier this month. Click here to view the proposed rule. Public comments are due before April 9.

Application deadline for CTE program approval approaching
Applications are now being accepted to become an approved Career & Technical Education program in school year 2013-14. The deadline to submit an application is March 8. Each program seeking approval must apply. Click here for more information.

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Smarter Balanced Pilot to begin in coming weeks

In the coming weeks, schools across South Dakota will participate in the Pilot Test of the Smarter Balanced assessments. The Pilot Test, which is slated to involve more than one million students in grades 3-11 nationwide, is being conducted in Smarter Balanced member states through late May. Aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, the Smarter Balanced assessment system is designed to measure student progress toward college and career readiness.

The Pilot Test will allow Smarter Balanced to evaluate the performance of assessment items and the online test delivery system under real-world conditions. This information will be used to develop additional items and performance tasks, conduct initial scaling, and refine the test engine during the next 18 months.

Schools will have access to support and resources, including a training test to become familiar with the format of the online assessment. Since the Pilot Test is designed to be a test of the items and performance tasks—not an opportunity to report on student learning—schools will not receive student scores and the test will not replace other statewide assessments.

There are two important phases to the Pilot Test. Approximately 100 South Dakota schools were recruited to participate in the scientific sample based on demographic characteristics. The scientific sample will ensure that the results from the Pilot Test accurately represent the student population across Smarter Balanced member states. Schools in the scientific sample will administer one content area (either mathematics or ELA/literacy) in up to two grades during a pre-determined two-week window under secure conditions.

Schools not selected as part of the scientific sample may still volunteer to participate through an online survey. South Dakota schools can still sign up to participate in the volunteer portion of the Pilot Test by clicking here to complete an online survey before March 27.

As a Smarter Balanced member state, South Dakota plays a key role in the development of next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Educators from across the state have participated in the development and review of assessment items, achievement level descriptors, and test specifications.

Smarter Balanced is developing a balanced system of assessments—with formative, interim and summative components—that measure achievement and growth toward college and career readiness. The work of Smarter Balanced is guided by the belief that a high-quality assessment system can provide information and tools for teachers and schools to improve instruction and help students succeed—regardless of disability, language or background.