To: Parents & Guardians of Juniors
From: Christian M. Elkington
Re: Smarter-Balanced Testing Questions and Answers
Parent/Guardian & student concerns that have been shared:
~ Losing instructional time for 4 full days?
- Scheduling is occurring around our student's schedules so that it will be the least
disruptive as possible. Tests are scheduled for 1/2 - days with students also attending
other classes. SRTC students will be going to SRTC and will test at the opposite time.
~ The school is not taking it seriously so why should we?
- We worked within the guidelines set forth by the State and Smarter Balanced so as to
maximize the learning our students will have completed before they will be asked to take
these exams, this May. We also scheduled these tests so as not to interfere with the final
push around AP Course instruction.
- Our Assessment Action Team developed a timeline and lesson plans to help staff provide
support and practice for our students with the Smarter-Balanced Assessment format. Lots
of planning, time and energy by our team, was used to prepare for this expectation.
- We created a schedule to be the least disruptive to the remainder of our school population
as well as to the Junior Class and classes. It is not perfect, but it wasn’t haphazardly done
and was as supportive as we could possibly make it.
- We had meetings with the Junior Advisors to gather feedback and make changes to our
plan to better support our advisors with supporting their students with the preparation.
- We provided any additional training to staff upon request so they/we feel more
comfortable with the assessments being given.
- Our Junior Advisory Lessons are shared through email the following Monday after they
have been completed so parents/guardians are able to support their son/daughter with the
prep work. After school lessons have been offered for those students that are not here or
are at SRTC.
- The above demonstrates that we are, have and do take the Smarter-Balanced Testing that
is about to begin VERY seriously!
~ What effect does this have on my child or me?
- The data collected will be shared within our school profile, shared with colleges and
incoming students and their parents & guardians.
- The results will be part of the basis of our school’s future report cards from the state.
- The Smarter Balanced Tests are very difficult because they are asking students not just to
remember facts and to then share them, but to take information and use that information
to think creatively and problem solve. We feel strongly that these are areas our students
need dramatic improvement in and that is one of the reasons we have put a great deal of
time in preparing our Juniors for the Smarter-Balanced Tests.
- It is our hope to use the Smarter-Balanced assessment format with our school’s
comprehensive assessment system in future years.
- In the years to come, when the results are shared across the state, colleges will be able to
see how we as a school compare to other schools.
- Parents & guardians along with their sons and daughters will be able to see and compare
their growth and success as compared to other schools and districts within our state.
~ There is so much testing between SAT, AP, Smarter Balanced, & MEA Science testing.
- There is more testing (especially for juniors who take AP Courses), within a six-week
timeframe this spring, than usual.
- We need to follow the expectations and timelines established by SAT, AP, Smarter-
Balanced, and the State.
- We chose to administer the SAT for free to all juniors this year, during the school day, so
as to give everyone the opportunity to take it! We did this to support our juniors.
- Having your son or daughter choose an AP Course is something we want more and more
of our kids to do, but it is a choice for them to take the AP Exam for each course and is
not a demand by us.
- The optimal guidelines for students to demonstrate, their best results on the Smarter-
Balanced Testing, is in the late spring and that is why they have been scheduled for the
end of May.
- Overall, when we look at the total amount of large-scale testing less than 4% of
instructional time is being used. For students with one or no AP Courses the total
percentage is less than 3%.
~ Almost everyone has opted out so why should I test?
- A large majority of our parents and guardians have not opted their son or daughter out.
- Around the state there appears to be a growing segment of opting out occurring, but we
hope this will not happen at MHS, as we want to see what this data can tell us.
- Taking the test is the academic plan for those blocks of time during the testing schedule.
Students who are not testing will be going to a study hall as their class is testing.
- Students are expected to both participate in test prep and to take these tests, unless an optout
form has been completed.
Please know that we would not be asking your sons and daughters, our students, to take these
tests unless we thought that the experience and results would be beneficial to them and us. Please
reconsider having your son or daughter opt-out. Thanks for reading this memo!