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News Brief

03/09/14

A New Way of Testing

Helena Independent Record (MT) (03/09/14) Brouwer, Derek

Montana is one of a few states that received permission from the U.S. Department of Education to eliminate its existing assessment a year early and require all students in grades 3-8 and 11 to take part in a pilot program of the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced exam. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau calls it "a practice run" and a "restart" for the state's student achievement data. She notes, "There can be no comparison between our new assessment and our old assessment because they're based on two entirely different sets of standards." Juneau argued in the waiver petition that because the state began implementing the Common Core State Standards last fall and teachers no longer use the old standards, it made little sense to test students this spring using the old exam. Student scores will not be released to schools and families during the field test, and it will take a couple of years before there is enough data to compare school performance. "The test itself is different too," Juneau says. "Rather than just having to read a passage and answer stuff about the plot, students are going to really have to know content to answer these computer-based questions."
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