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SD Department of Education March 2015  

  Answering parent questions as Smarter Balanced testing window opens

The Smarter Balanced statewide assessment was a subject of discussion during this year’s state legislative session. As a result, you may be getting some questions from parents about the assessment. While there have been attempts to change state law regarding the requirement to test all students in grades 3-8 and 11, those attempts failed – both in 2014 and 2015.

Below is a brief synopsis educators can use to help parents understand the importance of this new test:

Why students are taking the Smarter Balanced test

The Smarter Balanced test measures students’ mastery of academic standards in the areas of English language arts and math. Per state and federal law, this assessment is given one time a year and serves several important purposes.

• First, the assessment provides parents with important information regarding their child’s academic performance and skills. It’s much like an annual medical check-up.

• Second, the results help educators to discover patterns in terms of overall student performance. If a teacher sees that his or her students are not performing well on a particular topic – adding and subtracting fractions, for example – the teacher can modify his or her instruction, in order to ensure that future students are fully understanding the topic.

• Third, the collective assessment results are published each year in the State Report Card, so that parents, school leaders, taxpayers and community members can see how their local schools are performing.

• Finally, the public universities in South Dakota will be using the results of the Smarter Balanced assessment – specifically, a student’s 11th grade results – to determine if that student needs to take remedial coursework upon entry into a state university.

Other resources for parents

Click here for a parent infographic about Smarter Balanced.

Item-type tutorials on South Dakota’s Smarter Balanced portal walk viewers through each type of item students may encounter on the test. (Note: These tutorials are videos, but do not have audio.)

Practice and training tests can be accessed here.

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