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Vol. 47, No. 35

May 30, 2013

Practice Tests Provide Preview of New Statewide Student Assessments

Smarter Balanced tests are based on the Common Core State Standards

Schools across Missouri can now participate in practice tests to help them prepare for new statewide assessment testing set to begin during the 2014-2015 school year.

The practice tests will allow teachers, parents and students to try out the new online Smarter Balanced assessment system. Sample test questions were made available to the public Wednesday at smarterbalanced.org/practice-test/.

The Smarter Balanced tests, for students in grades 3-11, will assess learning in English language arts and mathematics. The new assessments will replace the state's current MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) tests in English and math.

The practice tests are being released nearly two years before the new assessment system is implemented.

"The practice tests give schools and families an opportunity to become familiar with the new assessments," said Chris L. Nicastro, commissioner of education. "The Smarter Balanced assessments will help educators better determine students' progress toward gaining the knowledge and skills they need for college and a career."

Preparing students for college, other postsecondary training and a career is one of the primary goals of the Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for Missouri to rank among the top 10 performing states in education by the year 2020.

The Smarter Balanced assessment system will measure student achievement based on the Common Core State Standards, adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010. The new assessments will include multiple choice questions, constructed response questions and performance tasks that measure achievement and guide instruction.

The release of the practice tests follows the first large-scale pilot test of the new assessment system. More than 5,000 schools across the country, including more than 360 schools in Missouri, participated in the pilot test from February through May.

The new assessment system was developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of 24 states, including Missouri. As a member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Missouri played a key role in guiding the assessment system, and Missouri educators are helping develop and review test questions.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will continue to collaborate with state education officials and teachers to fine-tune the new assessment system through the summer of 2014.

More information about the Smarter Balanced assessments can be found at smarterbalanced.org. For additional information about the Common Core State Standards, visit dese.mo.gov/divimprove/curriculum/Common_Core.html.