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Smarter Balanced Answers to the Questions about 2017 Test Results

Smarter Balanced AnswersThe Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has released the results of its investigative analysis of the 2017 Smarter Balanced assessments. The analyses were conducted to validate the 2017 test scores and investigate the possibility of technical issues that could have affected the test results.

With this report, the Smarter Balanced officials have concluded that “the test scores accurately describe what students knew and were able to do in spring 2017 related to the learning standards.”

What was this investigation about? 

The release of the spring 2017 Smarter Balanced assessments showed that the student gains had plateaued from 2016. At that time, educators questioned if this flattening of the scores was due to technical problems in the exam, and if there were serious issues in the test.

Subsequently, the consortium officials promised to investigate the issue and conduct analyses to address the questions raised by the educators. Their Technical Advisory Committee addressed the following list of questions:

  1. How did students perform in 2017 compared to 2016?
  2. Were there fewer test questions available?
  3. Did students receive more difficult test questions in 2017 compared to previous years?
  4. Did the newly-added test questions impact test results?
  5. Did students spend less time taking the test?
  6. Did students take the test earlier in the school year?
  7. Were the student demographics different?

Answers to Questions about Smarter Balanced 2017 Test Results

Based on its investigation, Smarter Balanced has just released an update on the analyses it performed.

Major takeaways from the Smarter Balanced Report are:

  1. The 2017 tests measured student success as precisely as the 2016 tests.
  2. There were no technical issues with the 2017 assessments.
  3. The newly added question items did not have a substantial effect on 2017 results.
  4. The new items appear to have improved the capability of the SBAC test to describe student learning
  5. Some of the gains between 2015 and 2016 were in part based on students becoming more familiar with the format of the test.
  6. It would work towards establishing procedures to monitor and potentially discriminate better between growth due to increased familiarity with the test and true improvement in student learning.

In short, the Smarter Balanced officials have concluded that the 2017 tests results were accurate and there were no issues with the Spring 2017 SBAC assessments.