Everything You Need to Know About the Smarter Balance Test
We’ve all heard about it by now; this year the OAKS test is being replaced by the Smarter Balance test. It holds a bit of ambiguity since not much has been said about it which concerns most students about how drastic the changes are.
What is it?
The first thing that is important is knowing what Smarter Balance even is. The Smarter Balance test is an assessment that is shared by approximately 45 states and is based on the Common Core standards.
Why did they change it?
One of the biggest questions students have about the Smarter Balance test is, “Why did they change it?” Hal Jones provides an explanation for this change. “All states used to have their own standards and their own ways of testing, which caused problems with research and comparison since all of them were very different,” he explains. “The Smarter Balance test adopts a common set of standards and a common way of assessing students’ knowledge and skills of those same standards.” With all states sharing a common assessment, it benefits research and makes it easier to analyze information.
Is it harder than OAKS?
Many students at school are very concerned that it is harder than OAKS. At the moment, the administrators are unsure as it will depend on the test itself and the students taking the test. “It’s the first year and it will be interesting to see other students’ experiences with this format,” Jones says. “We expect them to do their best like in the past. Together, we’ll all learn a lot.”
Who is taking it and when is it?
This year, the Smarter Balance test is to be only taken by juniors, but remains unclear for the next few years to come. Testing starts on April 20th, 2015 and will continue through the end of May.
Is it required to graduate?
Another thing students are worried about regarding the Smarter Balance test is that whether it will be required to pass it to graduate high school. Jones knows the answer for this important question. “As long as they meet the 24 credit requirement and meet the essential skills in proficiency through Smarter Balance or work samples, they can meet graduation requirements,” he explains. “In order to graduate, students must demonstrate proficiency in essential academic skills (reading, writing, and math). Smarter Balance is an important way to measure a student’s academic skill development.”
How are OAKS and Smarter Balance different?
The difference between Smarter Balance and OAKS is that all students in high school are eligible to take the OAKS test, while the Smarter Balance test is only offered for juniors. The latter assessment is based on the Common Core standards, which tend to require a deeper level of knowledge and skill. Also, the Smarter Balance is a computer adaptive test and a performance task.
How does it affect earning the Purple Tassel?
Since Smarter Balance is affecting graduation, students who want a purple tassel are wondering how the test will affect earning it. “We’re not sure how it’s going to affect the current juniors next year, so it is in development and we’ll share the criteria as soon as we have it,” Jones answers. “Work samples will still remain a part of graduation.”
As for those anxious about it, Jones leaves these last words. “Just relax,” he says. “The best way to prepare is to work hard in classes, go to office hours, and let yourself think deeply about subjects you are studying. –Alison Eagle, Digital Journalism-
SMHS Library's BIG News!
*You can check out a Kindle in the Library
We have several Kindles, loaded with books, available for checkout. See Mrs. K for information and to request a Kindle.
*You can check your own due dates and fines and put books on hold with your own library catalog login.
Your login to the library catalog is the same as your usual network login. Try it! The login link is in the SMHS library catalog at the top right of the screen.
*You can check out free eBooks (including some audiobooks) using the Overdrive app for your phone, Kindle, Nook, laptop, etc.
The Overdrive link is on the SMHS library website. Over 500 eBooks are available and more will be added. First you get the Overdrive app from your app store, then you login to Overdrive with your regular South High network login. See Mrs. K or Mrs. Stebbins for more information.
Booster Club Dinner Auction
The South Medford high Booster Club is putting on a dinner and auction event! The event will be held on Saturday, April 11th, at the Rogue Valley Country Club. The event includes a silent auction/social at 5:30PM, dinner at 7:00PM, and a live auction at 7:45PM. There will also be student performances! Tickets cost $30 and must be reserved by March 30th.
The proceeds from this auction will go towards purchasing things such as calculators for class use, sports uniforms, band instruments, etc. The Booster club says “your help is tremendously appreciated.” They would like to see you all there with your friends and families, so please come and support your SMHS Booster Club!
-Courtney Naylor, Digital Journalism-
Spring Break Only One Week; Final Quarter Approaches
If you’re like me, it has probably felt like this year has gone by very, very fast. As the final quarter of the school year approaches, students are likely panicking about their grades or trying to finish their senior projects and papers. Luckily, spring break is on the way, giving students and staff some extra R&R time. Unlike last year, this year’s spring break is only one week long, starting on the 21st of March and ending on the 29th. So when the time comes, use it well.
-Brandon Bartholomew-Digital Journalism-
Changes in Proficiency Grading
By now all students must know of the changes in proficiency grading that have been enacted this school year. Homework is now being counted as a percentage of student’s grades- a drastic difference from last year’s policies. Before, the policies allowed homework to not affect scores, but instead had only summative assessments factor into the student’s grades. That is most certainly not the case this year. Teachers and administrators now have the power to decide what percentage of grades will be formative assessments and how much will be summative assessments. Most teachers have landed on 20% to 80%, or 30% to 70%.
So what led to these changes? The district held surveys to collect information on how parents felt about the old proficiency system. 45% of 650 parent surveyors rated the quality of the system as “poor”, and even 32.3% said it was “not good”. In a separate set of questions, 50% said that they felt less informed and 43% noticed that the system was not helping their children. If a student didn’t pass one test and they failed to make it up, they failed the class for that quarter. Unfortunately the same is still true for learning targets. If a student fails a learning target they are given as many chances as they need to prove that they have learned the content and can pass the assessment. This also means that if a student doesn’t do any homework, their grade will be pulled down by whatever percent that formative assessments counts for in that class. Additionally, teachers can penalize students for turning in work late. So it’s now imperative that all students and parents keep in mind that homework does matter. As Megan Curry, a student at South, said, “I think the changes in proficiency grading are better preparing students for the real world, because it teaches the students accountability.”
-Grace Lewis, Digital Journalism-