Common Core in California: Tahoe-Truckee schools rolling out new assessments | SierraSun.com

Common Core in California: Tahoe-Truckee schools rolling out new assessments

Special to the Sun

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — This spring, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 will take a new assessment test, the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment, which is a major component of the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) system.

This change in testing is based on our implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The new standards push students to develop a deeper understanding of subject matter, critical thinking and application of what they have learned.

Students are developing skills critical to succeed in the 21st century. Along with reading to follow a story, students now read to cite evidence and draw logical conclusions. They use math to solve real-world problems.

For the first time ever, TTUSD scholars will have computer-based tests in English language arts/literacy and math. Instead of paper-based, multiple-choice assessments, students will be asked to take information and do something meaningful with it rather than only picking out (or guessing) the right multiple-choice answers.

A major benefit of the new assessments is that the computer adaptive technology will provide more accurate information about individual student performance.

Instead of just a proficiency score, teachers will get more detailed, meaningful information on each student to guide their instruction so all students are successful.

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"We need to be aware that these tests will be unlike any others in their application and their results and the results from this first administration of these assessments cannot be compared to previous test scores," said TTUSD Superintendent Rob Leri. "This year will establish a new baseline. Scores may appear to be lower than previous state assessments which are to be expected of a new testing system that uses different testing methodologies and one that assesses different standards and more rigorous skills including critical thinking."

Key features of the assessments include:

• They are aligned to Common Core State Standards (not just national standards, but standards specific to California).

• They measure critical thinking with questions that ask students to demonstrate their research, writing, and problem solving skills.

• They are untimed and students can take breaks so that they can do their best.

• They have been developed with input from K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and other experts.

• The results will create a new baseline from which all districts in California can measure growth.

• The results ultimately will help inform how we enhance standards-aligned instruction and how we assist students with test-taking strategies in with these new forms of assessments.

The testing window for the new state assessment is longer than in previous years; TTUSD anticipates implementing the new assessment to its students in April and May 2015.

This article was submitted to the Sun by the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Visit ttusd.org to learn more.