Smarter Balanced Assessments 3

Are the Smarter Balanced Assessments better assessments?  (continued)

English Language Arts/Literacy

Claim #1:  Students can read closely and analytically to comprehend a range of increasingly complex literary and informational texts.

Reading passages will be drawn from “a variety of literary and informational texts, including literary nonfiction and texts covering science, social studies, and technical topics.  Students are expected to answer questions that range from demonstrating the ability to locate key details and summarize central ideas to using textual evidence to analyze and support judgments made about the ideas presented.”  [ELA p. 29]

There will be a Total Reading score and possibly sub-scores for literary texts and informational texts.

There will be approximately four to eight reading passages.  Emphasis will be placed on citing specific evidence from reading passages.  For example, students may be asked to highlight evidence that supports a selected response.

Claim #2:  Students can produce effective and well-grounded writing for a range of purposes and audiences.

Students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to compose, revise, and edit literary and informational texts, including “narrative writing about real or imaginary experiences or events, writing informational/explanatory texts, writing opinions/arguments about a topic, and writing opinions/arguments in response to texts read (either fiction or nonfiction).”  [ELA p. 46]  The percentage of each type of writing will vary by grade level.

There will be a Total Writing score, and possibly sub-scores for organization and expression of ideas, use of evidence, and conventions.

Test items may include “one or two paragraph composing, revising, or editing tasks assessed using selected or constructed response items in the CAT format, or longer extended responses—full compositions planned and developed over one-two sessions.”  [ELA p. 54]

“All writing purposes will be assessed each year at every grade level, either with extended performance tasks or with CAT constructed response items/tasks (e.g., develop a description of a setting given an event or story line, develop an introduction to a report given a topic and some factual information).  Selected response items and short CR items will specifically assess editing skills (grammar, usage and mechanics standards) and the ability to revise a passage for clarity.  Extended performance tasks may be computer scored holistically and as well as human scored analytically for criteria such as argument development or discourse style.”  [ELA pp. 54-55]

Claim #3: Students can employ effective speaking and listening skills for a range of purposes and audiences.

“The CCSS speaking and listening standards require students to demonstrate a range of interactive oral communication and interpersonal skills, including, but not limited to skills necessary for making formal presentations.  Students must work collaboratively, express and listen carefully to ideas of others, integrate information from oral, visual, quantitative and media sources, evaluate what they hear, use media and visual displays strategically to achieve communicative purposes, and adapt speech to context, content, and task.”  [ELA p. 57]

Students will listen to and/or view audio or audio-visual media from a range of subject areas including science, history, and technical topics.  Listening comprehension will be assessed primarily through SR and CR items on the CAT assessment.

Speaking skills will be assessed through two kinds of assessments.  One will be an assessment task resulting in a two to five minute spoken response that will be recorded and externally scored.  The second will be a common oral presentation assessment scored locally using common rubrics, with the results certified by the district and reported to the state.  Student collaborative discussion and formal presentations will be recorded for auditing purposes.

Claim #4: Students can engage in research/inquiry to investigate topics and to analyze, integrate, and present information.

Students may gather and/or interpret information from multiple sources and then create a written response (with supporting evidence), an oral presentation (with supporting evidence) or a visual/graphic presentation (PowerPoint or storyboard, for example) with supporting evidence.  Students may be expected to collaborate during the information-gathering stage.  For example, they may discuss sources or perform experiments with other students before creating individual presentations or written reports.

There may be a Total/Research Inquiry score.  Research skills will generally be assessed with extended performance tasks that may take two to four days to administer.  They may also be assessed through constructed response items asking students to compare several texts or find information in provided sources.

Items and performance tasks:

SR items: 1-3 minutes per item (grade 3), otherwise 1-2 minutes per item.  [ELAIT p.9]

Sample SR item:  “Which phrase signals a major change in the action of the poem?”  [ELAIT p. 11—see document for multiple-choice options and distractor analysis]

CR items: 5-10 minutes each.  Students may be asked to write about their own experiences.

Sample CR item:  “Write a paragraph explaining why people who live in moist climates work harder to prevent mold than people that live in dry climates.  Include details from the passage about how they prevent mold.”  [ELAIT p. 15—see document for scoring rubric/sample answers]

Sample TE CR item (drag and drop): “Below is information from the passage, “The Meditations.”  Organize the information by moving each phrase from the passage into the proper section of the table: central idea, supporting details, and a comparison used to make a point.”  [ELA App. p. 11—see this document for other SR/CR sample items]

Performance tasks:  105 minutes (grades 3-8) or 120 minutes (high school).  To be completed in a single session with a break.  The first 35 minutes will be for reading or listening to source materials and answering at least 3 CR research questions.  The remainder of the time will be used to plan, edit, and complete the final product (oral presentation, written response).  [ELAIT pp. 18-19]

Sample performance tasks:  Students will read a short story and an article, watch a video, and review research statistics.  Students will answer three questions about the sources (CR items).  Students will plan, write, and revise/edit an essay responding to the following essay prompt: “Your parents are considering having you attend a virtual high school.  Write an argumentative essay explaining why you agree or disagree with this idea.  Support your claim with evidence from what you have read and viewed.”  [ELAIT pp. 24-26—high school level]

“Read and discuss “Facts about Sharks” by Susanna Batchelor.  Think about how these two types of sharks are the same and also how they are different.  Which shark would you study if you were a shark scientist and why?”  Students are instructed to “find the best shark facts to support [their] reasons” and to use shark facts to explain why they would choose to study one shark over another.  The final product is to include “an illustration that supports the opinion.”  [ELA App. pp. 20-21—grade 4 task—see this document for other sample performance tasks]

ELA scoring rubrics are available here or here (pp. 30-66).