Common Core State Standards at Incline Middle School

Sharon Kennedy
Special to the Bonanza

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Mission Statement of Common Core State Standards, the education standards that have recently been adopted by 45 states, says, “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

Recognizing that these new standards will require new systems of accountability to determine whether students are meeting the standards, Nevada has joined with 20 other states as part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to administer next generation assessments that are reliable and valid.

These new assessments are intended to go beyond multiple-choice questions to allow students to use problem-solving skills and exhibit critical-thinking. Intended for grades 3-8 and 11, the assessments will be given in both English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA/Literacy) and Mathematics.

While SBAC is not scheduled to be implemented until the 2014-15 school year and Nevada is still administering the Nevada Criterion Reference tests (CRT) for the 2012-13 school year, Incline Middle School has been chosen as one of a limited number of schools in the country selected to pilot the Smarter Balanced Assessment this spring.

Schools throughout the Smarter Balanced member states were scientifically selected for participation in this pilot to administer the online assessment and IMS plans to administer the ELA test to students in grade 8 and the mathematics test to students in grade 7 in early March.

Parents have been notified that participation in the tests is voluntary, confidential, and will take place over multiple days in the school’s computer labs.

Although the school will not have access to student scores or results, it is an opportunity for our students to get a glimpse of what these new assessments may look like in the coming years and to become familiar with, what is hoped to be, innovative testing.

Participation in the pilot provides SBAC with information about the functioning of the software, the effectiveness of their materials, and areas of needed improvement prior to field testing in 2014 and full implementation in 2015.

Testing in schools is changing and IMS is part of this movement forward. It is the hope of Incline Middle School, Washoe County School District, and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that this will be a positive experience for students as they impact the transformation of testing of the future.

Sharon Kennedy is principal at Incline Middle School.

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