Common Core State Standards and Assessment Tests
Common Core State Standards
and Smarter Balance Assessment System
Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are the new law of the land, educationally speaking– they are being implemented in various ways at iPoly.
The overarching goal of the CCSS is to prepare graduates for college and career, readying them for the transition to a successful life beyond high school. The College and Career Readiness (CCR) anchor standards are the backbone on which the standards are built throughout the grade levels. Literacy, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language is a key element, with an increased emphasis on informational text in all subjects, greater complexity
of text, deeper comprehension, finding evidence within their reading to support their answers---and the understanding that continual development of these literacy skills is crucial for success beyond high school. Similarly, the Mathematics standards require students to provide evidence and explanations for their answers---not just answers.
Examples of Use at iPoly
At iPoly, teachers have been studying the standards and integrating them into their curriculum. For example, freshman math teacher Mr. Estrada has selected a book for students to read, one that weaves math into the story. Sophomore science teacher Ms. Schiller is having her biology students read James D. Watson's book The Double Helix, on the discovery of DNA structure, in conjunction with her lectures and class discussions. Again, in math, teachers are doing more real problem solving– giving students an actual problem and having them figure out how to solve it without giving them an equation first. Mr. Daly's World History course is integrating more primary source documents.
Smarter Balance Assessment System
The Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is designing assessments to measure the English and Math Common Core standards. These tests will replace some of the previous state-standards' testing.
iPoly piloted SBAC in May 2013– testing 9th grade English and 11th grade math, all on the computer. Rather than bubbling in answers, as required by STAR testing that we’ve used in the past, SBAC requires students to do a lot of critical thinking and analysis; students are challenged to explain their answers.
While it is clearly a paradigm shift, iPoly's curriculum and instruction already lends itself well to the CCSS, although at iPoly there is always ongoing and continuous effort to provide students with the most meaningful and highest quality curriculum and instruction. Several iPoly faculty members are taking on-line courses to increase their familiarity with the new standards, and administration is always seeking effective professional development to support the teachers.
While some states have declined to use the SBAC, California and a majority of the United States are moving forward with them. In the 2013-14 academic year, iPoly will have less STAR testing than we have had in the past – and may take part in field testing of the new SBAC tests. True implementation is scheduled for the 2014-15 academic year, following further refinement of the assessments.
For further information, there are links to the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessments at the top of this page.