What do the new Smarter Balanced State Assessment results mean for Delaware students?

delaware educationThe statewide assessment results recently released provide a snapshot of how Delaware students are performing in English language arts and mathematics. The results are the first ever scores for the Smarter Balanced Assessment test, which is aligned with the Common Core standards.

Statewide, only  slightly more than half of students in third through eighth grades and in grade 11 were “proficient’ or better in English. In math, just under 39 percent were statewide.

More than four million students took the field test that was used to set expectations for how students would perform when Smarter Balanced was first offered last spring. Following that test, educators, school leaders, higher education faculty, parents and others worked together to develop benchmarks for students to reach different achievement levels (one through four), with students scoring 3 or 4 considered “proficient.”’

What is the Smarter Balanced Test?

The Smarter Balanced results measure Delaware students’ progress toward the academic goals laid out in the Common Core State Standards, which were designed to ensure students have the skills and knowledge they need in jobs and college. The standards set learning expectations for what students should know or what skills they should master at the completion of each grade level. Individual districts determine their own curricula and decide how those skills and knowledge are best taught.

The new Smarter exams test different content and skills than the old exams (Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System or DCAS) tested so the scores cannot be compared directly. Recognizing this transition, the state is delaying the use of the results for teacher evaluations for the next two years. As expected, the results look different from those under the old test. This does not mean that students are learning less. Rather, it reflects that the bar has been set higher.

What do these results mean for Delaware students?

While no single test can give a complete picture of achievement, annual assessments can provide important information about student progress and areas for improvement, especially when combined with student grades and teacher reports.

Educators use the assessment data in many ways:

  • The scores are used to examine how well students are doing in districts, schools, grades and individual classrooms. Importantly, districts use this data to investigate how aligned their curriculum is to the standards—what children should know and be able to do in each grade.
  • They also use it to make decisions about where to focus professional learning for their educators.
  • Principals can use this information to help understand if certain grades or classrooms are doing especially well and should be models—or identify where teachers or students might need extra professional development or support.
  • Teachers can use the information about their current students to see if extra focus is warranted in a specific skill area.

To learn more or to see how your child’s school performed, visit the Delaware Department of Education.

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