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SD Department of Education December 2014  

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Jan Martin, with the department’s Division of Assessment and Accountability, talks about achievement levels and cut scores
Smarter Balanced achievement level cut scores approved by consortium

The Smarter Balanced consortium states met Nov. 14, and approved the achievement level cut scores (1, 2, 3, 4) for the assessment. In the processes leading up to this approval, South Dakota had almost 70 individuals who participated in the online achievement level setting, and 10 who participated in the face-to-face process. Click here to access the press release regarding the achievement level setting.

The current achievement level cut scores are estimates based on field test data. Achievement level descriptors do not equate directly to expectations for “on-grade” performance, but to the range of performance within a grade level. Below are the cut scores (or, threshold scale scores) that have been set for each grade:

Math Threshold Scale Scores      ELA Threshold Scale Scores

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The following two charts indicate the percentage of students (across all consortium states) expected to score within each level.

Math: Achievement Level Estimate      ELA: Achievement Level Estimate

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“Initially, we anticipate that more students will score in the Level 1 and 2 ranges than in the Level 3 and 4 ranges,” says Jan Martin, assessment coordinator for the South Dakota Department of Education. “Long-term, though, we fully expect South Dakota students will adjust to the higher expectations, and we will see more students scoring in Levels 3 and 4.”

According to Martin, the goal is for students to get to those higher ranges, because students achieving those scores demonstrate not only more thorough understanding of the standards, but the ability to apply their knowledge. Scoring in Levels 3 and 4 indicates students are on track to be college and career ready.

It is important not to make comparisons with the Dakota STEP, as the Smarter Balanced assessment measures student proficiency against a new set of standards. The new assessment sets a new baseline.

It is also important to note that the South Dakota Board of Regents plans to use 11th grade Smarter Balanced scores for placement guidelines in the future. So, if a student reaches a certain level (to be determined) on Smarter Balanced, that student can go directly into credit-bearing college-level courses. This will make the state assessment more meaningful to high school students.

Resources for communicating with parents and other community stakeholders are available here. Items are being added to this page regularly.

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