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Smarter Balanced Assessments
High-quality assessments offer educators accurate and timely information about the academic achievement and growth of their students. With the help of these high-quality data, educators can customize instruction to meet the needs of each student, and schools and the Department of Education can identify instructional areas in need of attention and pockets of excellence that should be investigated and shared.
The Maine Department of Education is a partner in developing such a system of next-generation, computer-adaptive assessments that will test students' problem-solving skills and higher-order thinking. Maine is a governing state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium -- one of two federally supported, state-led collaboratives developing assessment systems for math and English language arts that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
Maine schools are on track to begin using the Smarter Balanced Assessments during the 2014-15 academic year. The assessments will take the place of the New England Common Assessment Program tests taken by students in grades 3 through 8, and the SAT taken by students in high school.
Format and Technology
The Smarter Balanced assessments will measure student progress toward meeting the Common Core State Standards at each of the tested learning levels over the course of an entire school year. Questions will take on a variety of forms: essays, multiple-choice, mini-projects, specified performance tasks and more.
The Smarter Balanced assessment tools will capitalize on the power of technology to provide dynamic tests that can be scored quickly.
Students will take the tests using computers, and the assessments will be computer-adaptive -- meaning the difficulty level of questions will change based on students' success in answering the preceding questions. The computer-based nature of the tests will allow for fast scoring and delivery of results. The sooner educators know their students' results, the sooner they can begin using that knowledge to adapt instruction and improve student achievement.
The Smarter Balanced assessments will satisfy the testing requirements of federal education laws. Schools will administer the assessments for those purposes in the last 12 weeks of the school year.
In addition to helping schools and states meet federal testing requirements, the Smarter Balanced assessment system will offer a range of optional formative assessment tools. These are assessments that educators can use throughout the year to test students' developing understanding of concepts and their progress toward meeting learning standards.
Educators can use these valuable data to tailor instruction to the needs of individual students.
Now that 45 states have adopted and are beginning to teach to a common set of standards for math and English language arts -- the Common Core State Standards -- the states are also developing common assessments to test student progress toward mastering those standards.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium involves educators from nearly 30 states in developing the various aspects of a new generation of assessment tools. Representatives from the K-12 education, business and higher education sectors in the participating states are involved in the assessment development. The Consortium is organized into 10 work groups that oversee different aspects of the assessment's development.
The Consortium's work is funded by a $160 million federal grant awarded under the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top Assessment Program.
Digital Library Opportunity to Participate
Smarter Balanced and Maine are seeking educators who have significant experience in formative assessment and deep knowledge of Common Core State Standards to join Maine’s State Network of Educators and help review professional learning resources for the Smarter Balanced Digital Library. Applications are due June 3, 2013.
- More information (RTF, 1.6MB)
- Recruiting details
- Step-by-Step Guide to State Network of Educators Application
Director of Standards & Assessment