Smarter Balanced Assessments 22

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I thought I’d take a look at the SAT writing exam and then more specifically at Iowa.

In 2011, 1,664,479 students took the SAT.  The essay section is 25 minutes long and is scored by two readers, each of whom spends on average less than three minutes scoring each essay.  In addition to the time spent scoring essays, readers also participate in training and scoring quality control activities.  In a complete Google fail, I was unable to determine how many readers are used to score the essays, but the tests are spread out over seven test dates from October to June while the Smarter Balanced Assessments are planned to be administered in a twelve week window at the end of the school year.

Multiplying the number of test takers times 2 readers times 3 minutes per reader, I arrived at an estimated 9,986,874 minutes (or 166,448 hours) spent grading the SAT essay question in 2011.

What does all this mean for Iowa if we adopt the Smarter Balanced Assessments?

At this point, we’ll have to make a few assumptions to take a stab at answering that question: (1) that to reduce administrative costs, Iowa teachers will be required to score the portions of the Smarter Balanced Assessments that cannot currently be scored by computer as a professional development task, (2) that the SAT essay grading practice is standard practice (2 readers per answer), and (3) that the Smarter Balanced Assessment performance task items will take a similar amount of time to score as the SAT essays.

The 2012 Annual Condition of Education report (page 4) projects that Iowa will have 482,477 students enrolled in K-12 public schools during the 2016-17 school year.  Of those, there are projected to be 329,845 students enrolled in public school grades 3-11 (the grade levels that will be required to be tested starting in 2016-17 per HF215).

Assuming that the Smarter Balanced Assessments have just one performance task for language arts and one for math, we can multiply the number of students projected to be tested times 2 tasks times 2 readers times 3 minutes to arrive at 3,958,140 minutes (or 65,969 hours) to score the performance task portions of the Smarter Balanced Assessments for Iowa students.

This works out to some number larger than two hours per Iowa public school teacher (see page 33 of the 2012 Condition of Education report) as presumably teachers of non-tested grade levels and subjects will not be expected to participate in scoring the performance task items.  How much larger, I can’t guess without better numbers on teaching assignments and without knowing how much time training and scoring quality activities would add.

In any case, all Iowa teachers and districts are working on implementing the Iowa Core.  In addition, some are also working on 1:1 and other technology initiatives, standards based grading, and competency based education.  And that is apparently just the tip of the iceberg.  For more, take the time to read Superintendent Denny Wulf on adding professional development time for Norwalk teachers from January of this year.

Do Iowa math and language arts teachers have professional development hours to spare at the end of each school year for scoring Smarter Balanced Assessment performance task items?  Could that time be better used for other professional development activities?

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