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SBAC E-mail Update Issue 54

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) e-mail update sent out on April 1, 2013.

Index of archived SBAC e-mail updates


The California Department of Education (CDE) Smarter Balanced update is a bimonthly e-mail that reports on current and upcoming Smarter Balanced development activities. To join the CDE Smarter Balanced e-mail list, send a blank e-mail to

In this issue:

Changes to the Volunteer Pilot Test

Smarter Balanced has modified its plans to administer a Volunteer Pilot Test and, instead, will release a more complete and broadly available "Practice Test" in lieu of the Volunteer Pilot Test. The decision to change from a Volunteer Pilot to a Practice Test was in response to the high demand from principals, teachers, parents, and the public for access to the Volunteer Pilot Test.

The launch of the Practice Test will occur on May 29, 2013, which is later than the anticipated release of the original Volunteer Pilot Test. We understand that, for many schools, this later start date may not allow for the opportunity to engage with this test this school year. It is expected, however, that the benefit of having the Practice Test available throughout the summer and next school year will mitigate the delay of its availability. In addition, online access to the Practice Test will not require a unique username and password, meaning that schools and districts can use the Practice Test for professional development activities and for discussions with parents, policymakers, and other interested stakeholders.

The Practice Test will include performance tasks (not previously planned for the Volunteer Pilot) and will be constructed to follow a test blueprint similar to the blueprint intended for the operational test. Additionally, the Practice Test will support several accommodations, such as text-to-speech, item-level pop-up Spanish glossaries for construct irrelevant terms (mathematics tests only), Braille, and American Sign Language. With the Practice Test, teachers will be able to construct simulated assessment events for their students.

Please note: The change from a Volunteer Pilot Test to a Practice Test does not impact the Scientific Pilot Test. All schools registered for the Scientific Pilot Test will continue to test as scheduled.

Initial Achievement Level Descriptors Approved

On March 20, chief state school officers of the Smarter Balanced governing states approved the initial achievement level descriptors (ALDs) for Smarter Balanced assessments. The initial ALDs are based on four levels of achievement that describe student performance on the Smarter Balanced assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Smarter Balanced is developing an integrated suite of ALDs that serve different purposes for item writing, standard setting, and reporting of results. Reporting ALDs—which will provide guidance to students and parents about how to interpret performance on the assessments—will be developed in 2014 following standard setting. The complete English language arts/literacy and mathematics initial ALDs are available on the Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Descriptors and College Content Readiness Web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Authorization to Establish Affiliate Relationship with CRESST Center

On March 20, chief state school officers of the Smarter Balanced governing states approved Smarter Balanced to move forward in establishing an affiliate relationship with the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at the University of California, Los Angeles. With this approval, Smarter Balanced has initiated negotiations with CRESST and will draft an organizational plan and revised set of bylaws to take effect after the conclusion of the consortium’s federal grant in 2014.

More Information

Additional information about Smarter Balanced is available on the CDE Smarter Balanced Web page and on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s Web site External link opens in new window or tab..

General questions about the Smarter Balanced assessments should be directed to the CDE California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office by phone at 916-445-8765 or by e-mail at

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Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | | 916-445-8765
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