If you are like many parents, students and teachers you will be excited to know that common core practice tests are now available online. If you or your student are anxious about the common core state standards testing that will begin during the 2014-2015 school year, you need not be. Recently, common core practice tests were unveiled to acquaint students with the common core testing process and requirements. These practice tests offer a run-through of both English language arts and math test questions.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two major groups designing the testing procedures and content for the common core testing program, recently released sets of online sample test questions for students in grades 3-8 and 11. The sample question sets cover English language arts and math, the first two subjects to be tested during the 2014-2015 school year. Theses tests will be administered online to students in states participating in the Common Core Standards initiative.

This major undertaking has the potential to be stressful for parents, teachers and students alike, so the newly available common core practice tests offer a way to ease the trepidations surrounding the tests and testing process.

A number of states have experienced serious breakdowns on their own, online statewide assessment systems recently, leading some to question how smoothly a larger, multi-state testing model will perform.

And many state and district officials have voiced worries about the capability of existing technology systems in schools to handle the strain of administering the tests at the same time they’re asked to perform other, day-to-day classroom and administrative functions.

The first link in the second paragraph of this blog item lists the operating systems and browers that can be used for the practice tests. (See my recent Ed Week story on the choices districts face in choosing operating systems for the common core.) Once you’re on the page, you will be able to follow a series of steps that brings you to the practice items.

The mock-up test includes constructed-response, selected-response, and technology-enhanced items, as well as performance tasks, which Smarter Balanced officials describe as extended-length activities that ask students to apply skills and knowledge to “real-world” problems. The practice tests don’t cover all the features that will eventually be included on the actual common-core exams: Students won’t receive reports or scores, and while the actual tests will be computer-adaptive, the practice model will follow a “fixed-form” model.

The unveiling of the practice tests is not Smarter Balanced’s first effort to test-drive the common-core tests. Earlier this year, more than 5,000 schools in 21 states participating in the Smarter Balanced coalition took part in a pilot test, which amounted to a “large-scale tryout of items and performance tasks,” consortium officials said.

The practice tests will offer schools and districts a “resource for professional development and outreach,” Joe Wilhoft, the executive director of the Smarter Balanced consortium, said in a statement.

CONTINUE READING – Common-Core Online Practice Tests Unveiled

Sean Cavanagh is an assistant editor for Education Week. He covers charter schools, school choice, and parent engagement and writes the Charters & Choice blog.


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