Monday, November 10, 2014

Smarter Balanced knocks out WESTEST

Smarter Balanced knocks out WESTEST
By: Abbey Vidrine
   The rumors are true. WESTEST will no longer be given as the end of the year assessment. Finally, the test we have taken every spring since the third grade is over. However, that does not mean that there will not be another test replacing it.
   The Smarter Balanced Assessment will be taking the place of WESTEST beginning this year. As terrible as this does sound, Smarter Balanced differs a lot from WESTEST. WESTEST was a state wide test, and Smarter Balanced is country wide. This means that our rest scores will be compared to students all over the United States.
   The goal is to ensure that students who transfer school schools or move will be learning the same things. It will be given to grades three through eleven, so don’t worry you won’t be taking it. However, Smarter Balanced is still focused on core classes, and students will still be expected to do their best.
   Smarter Balanced is a very new assessment. It is aligned with common core, a nationwide initiative to give every state the same standards to work towards. Currently science and social studies will be the same format and have the same questions as WESTEST. However, English and math will be changing drastically. For English, students will begin with performance tasks. A teacher will begin with getting the class discussing the same subject through different activities. The activities are scripted as well, meaning that the teacher follows instructions. Then, students will read several sources and, based on the sources and discussion, write a constructed response about the topic. Students will be able to take notes on the class discussions, and they can use the notes they take to help them write the essay. Prior to all of these activities, a multiple choice English test will be given. This will not be allowed to help students write their essay. Math will consist of the same type of concept. Math uses visual aids and different types of responses instead. All four tests will take several days, but they will not be given all day.

   Students will be able to get more involved with what they are doing. It may be a new test, but it will still be taken in the spring. Therefore, that will not be a difficult change. We are not only ranked state wide, but our school will be compared to schools all over the country. This means that students will have to put in maximum effort. Smarter Balanced Assessment will hopefully be a better turnout for students than WESTEST. 

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