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What is SBAC?

  • Smarter Balanced Assessments (created by SBAC, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) are new computer-based tests that measure student knowledge of English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics standards.
  • The first statewide administration of these assessments took place spring 2015.
  • Students in grades 3-8 and 11 take SBAC tests.

How are SBAC assessments different than previous statewide tests?

  • Computer-based and computer-adaptive: The tests provide students with a wider range of questions tailored to more accurately identify the knowledge and skills individual students have mastered.
  • Performance tasks: The tests challenge students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving, and to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems.
  • Measures student growth over time: Not possible in California’s previous system, this will provide teachers and schools important information to guide learning down the road.
  • Student support: The new computer-based tests include supports for English learners and students with special needs, allowing these students the ability to effectively demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

How does SBAC measure college and career readiness?

  • The Smarter Balanced Assessments are based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA and mathematics. These standards are considered to be rigorous academic standards that emphasize not only subject knowledge, but also the critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem-solving skills students need to be successful in college and career.
  • A student’s score, ranging from 2000-3000, reflects one of four Achievement Level categories. These categories show a student’s standing as it relates to college and career readiness.
    • Standard Exceeded: On track to be ready for college by the end of 11th grade
    • Standard Met: On track to be ready for college by the end of 12th grade
    • Standard Nearly Met: As of now, student is behind grade-level
    • Standard Not Met: As of now, student is far behind grade-level
  • College readiness is defined as being successful in first year college-level coursework without taking remedial courses.

How will Smarter Balanced assessments be scored?

  • Students will receive one overall score for ELA and one overall score for mathematics, comprised of two components:
    • A score, ranging from 2000-3000
    • An “Achievement Level Descriptor” (ALD) category, including: Standard Not Met, Standard Nearly Met, Standard Met, Standard Exceeded
  • An example student score report can be found here

How are SBAC exam results used to assess school quality?

  • SBAC scores are just one of many indicators that can shed light on school quality — other indicators include student, family, and teacher surveys, graduation and attendance rates, and suspension data.
  • While SBAC is still a very new tool, SBAC results can shed light on macro trends such as correlations between academic performance and race, socioeconomic-status, or neighborhood.
  • Prior to 2014 , the California Department of Education used the Academic Performance Index as a measurement of academic performance and progress of individual schools in California. On March 13, 2014, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved not to calculate the API for local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools for the 2014 and 2015 academic years. As a result, the 2014, 2015, and 2016 API reports will not be produced. The SBE and the California Department of Education (CDE) are in the process of developing a new accountability system to replace the API to better measure our State’s educational goals.

Sources & more information

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