Cedar Reader - SBAC Edition
Cedar Park Middle School
Message from the Principal
The next few weeks mark the beginning of the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) tests for English Language Arts and Math. All our students will be testing at the same time to ensure the optimal testing environment.Testing, especially standardized testing, has become a contested and argued topic in the last few years, with parents and educators alike agreeing that, at times, we spend too much time on testing. However, assessment of student learning is necessary and good; in fact, some testing, like the SBAC tests actually benefit students, teachers and the school overall. Please, allow me to explain.
The SBAC tests are a great way for students to “practice” their testing skills so they are more confident and comfortable taking extended tests when the stakes are much higher. For example, students will take either the ACT or SAT when applying to college, and it is highly recommended that students take these tests more than once, because their scores generally improve after the first round. In addition, students taking AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) courses in high school will be required to take a test at the end of the course; their score will determine if they earn college credit for that class. AP and IB test scores are printed on high school transcripts and are reported to universities when students apply for admission – test scores matter to colleges and universities. Testing is more than just demonstrating what a student has learned, testing is a skill.
In addition, test scores are used by schools and teachers to help determine what courses are best for students. For example, the SBAC Math assessment will help us find students who may need more remediation and support in math next year; some of our Beaverton high schools use the SBAC tests to recommend students for advanced courses. Tests tell us about what a student has learned, but they also communicate academic potential and areas of need.
Standardized tests that are aligned to state and district content standards, like SBAC, help teachers and the school reflect on and adjust instruction. Teachers use test results in their classrooms on a daily and weekly basis to reflect on their students’ learning and growth; standardized tests help them do the same on a larger scale. As a staff, we look at our school and students’ scores to plan our professional development, establish school goals, recognize gaps and needs, and celebrate successes. While standardized test scores don’t tell the entire story of a school, they give us an important piece to use for our continued improvement.
Finally, testing is one of the most efficient ways to communicate the success of a school to the local and state-wide community. Yes, there are many elements of a school that are very important that test scores don’t communicate: culture, environment, vision, values, etc., but a school report card is a quick glimpse into the academic performance of a school, which also reflects the surrounding community. At its most basic level, a successful school reflects a successful, prosperous neighborhood community.
I hope this has given you some insight into standardized testing from a school/teacher/leader perspective. I hope it helps you feel better about the time we spend testing students in the next few weeks. Most importantly, I hope it helps you encourage your student to do her/his best on any assessment – it really does matter.
What students need to be prepared...
2. Bring earbuds - CANNOT be bluetooth; must have a wired connection
3. Get a good night sleep
4. Eat a healthy breakfast
5. Bring a small snack
6. Bring a book to read when you are finished