Smarter Balanced moving forward
The Governing States of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium approved achievement level descriptors (ALDs) and established an affiliation with the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at the University of California, Los Angeles to begin after the conclusion of the federal grant in 2014.
At a March conference in Arlington, Va., state education chiefs met in a public session and approved initial achievement level descriptors—which distinguish among the levels of student performance in English language arts/literacy and mathematics on the Smarter Balanced assessments. Governing States agreed to continue discussions within their states of a college content-readiness policy, which describes how scores on the high school assessment can be used by colleges and universities.
Adoption of the initial ALDs is part of an extensive collaboration between K-12 education agencies and institutions of higher education. The development of the initial ALDs began in October 2012 with collaboration among K-12 teachers and administrators and higher education faculty from two- and four-year colleges and universities representing Smarter Balanced Governing States. A six-month review process engaged a broad array of K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, content experts, and education partners through two rounds of public comment in November and February.
The approved initial ALDs are based upon four levels of achievement that describe the level of rigor students have demonstrated: “thorough understanding,” “adequate understanding,” “partial understanding,” or “minimal understanding” of knowledge, skills, and processes for the two assessed Common Core content areas of English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Smarter Balanced is developing an integrated suite of ALDs that serve different purposes for item writing, standard-setting, and reporting results. Reporting ALDs—which will provide guidance to students and parents about how to interpret performance on the assessments—will be developed following standard setting in 2014. Click here to access the complete English language arts/literacy and mathematics initial ALDs.
The third Smarter Balanced Collaboration Conference brought together representatives from the consortium’s 25 members—including state education chiefs, K-12 state leads, higher education leads, work group members, and contractors—to facilitate coordination on the design and implementation of the next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. In accordance with the consortium’s state-led governance structure, the 21 Smarter Balanced Governing States each have a vote on major policy decisions through their chief state school officer or delegate. The next Smarter Balanced Collaboration Conference will be held in September.