New Exam to Replace STAR Test in 2015

Elena Wasserman, Staff Writer

In two years, STAR tests will be gone and the Smarter Balanced Assessments will be here. “It’s a more in depth way of testing students on what they’ve learned and what they still need to work on,” English teacher Frank Reyherme said. Smarter Balanced assessments will go far beyond multiple-choice questions to include extended response and technology enhanced items, along with performance tasks that allow students to demonstrate problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

“They will now be using computer adaptive technologies to give the best possible feedback so students know what areas they specifically need to improve in,” Reyherme said.

The tests will also focus on the curriculum covered in classes, so each student will take a test at the difficulty level specific for them.

“The test will benefit the students because it’s not purely multiple choice anymore, which will give students more of an opportunity to show what they know,” Reyherme said. “The only setback I can see so far is how they are going to go about grading the assessments. There has been talk of computers grading the essays, which I think is a terrible idea. The past computer grading programs have done things like counting keywords which insufficiently grades the work of the students.”

No one knows exactly what the tests will look like, but rough drafts have been sent to schools, including Miramonte. “The assessments are still in the draft process,” Principal Adam Clark said. “We don’t know exactly what will be replacing the STAR tests but we know that in the next couple of years the Smarter Balanced assessments will be here and students will be taking a whole new test.”

A “pilot” exam, organized by the state department, was going to be held at Las Lomas High School last week to see how the students reacted, but was cancelled due to scheduling issues.

“The pilot exam was going to be a way to test the waters and see what the students thought of the test,” Clark said.

Although the sample test was cancelled, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is moving in quickly, ready to take over the STAR tests in as few as two years.