Idaho has created a new standardized test. Whether we need a standardized test or not can be debated; some say we need them to prove that our student population is indeed literate, while others say that our test-obsessed culture is unhealthy for our students. Debate we might, but it seems that statewide tests are here to stay.
For years, we have taken the ISAT. However, legislation has changed and we are now guinea pigs for a new test: the SBAC. SBAC is an acronym for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which sounds fancy and prestigious, but what does it mean for us, the students?
The SBAC ties into Common Core, a new curriculum that Idaho is pushing for us to learn. We are going to be stressing comprehension more now. This means more essays, and more in depth reading. For math and science, we will probably have to look at why the equations work rather than just memorizing them. So, the SBAC is going to attempt to test us more on how much we understand rather than how much we know.
For this reason, we have short answers on our test now. Multiple choice is also being shaken up, with the test giving us problems that may have more than one answer. While the test may not have as much of a focus on simply memorizing facts, it still can be quite hard. Looking at a word and guessing its definition can be easier than looking at a passage and comprehending its moral.
The SBAC is planned to become a graduation requirement, much like the ISAT. However, this year is more of an experiment than an actual test where they see how much we know. This is the dry run, where the higher-ups work out all the kinks for the years to come. That’s no reason to not try your best, of course. To help future test takers, we need to do our best so the test can be adjusted for later.
Don’t get too stressed out; we won’t even get to hear how well we did on the test. Just do your best and then put it out of your mind until next year.