- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia students will take a new online standardized test this year that’s based on the national Common Core standards.

The testing window for the Smarter Balanced Assessment begins next week and runs through June 24. Counties and schools will set their own testing schedules.

State Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano said the test will evaluate how well students have learned under new education standards.

“The biggest difference is that these new tests integrate technology,” Martirano told the Charleston Daily Mail (https://bit.ly/1BJ6vYk). “They are active and engaging, so students aren’t just writing down answers anymore.”

The new test doesn’t have any multiple-choice questions. Instead, students will work through problems in each subject and show how they arrived at their answers.

The test also will adjust the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment, said John Duffy, the director of instruction for Kanawha County Schools.

Students participating in a multi-state field test in 2014 described the assessment as challenging. They said answering questions took more thought, Duffy said.

“We are well prepared, and I am confident our students will work extremely hard to perform to the best of their abilities,” he told the newspaper.

Martirano said the Department of Education won’t use the test’s results to determine teacher and school grades until 2016. That will allow two sets of results from the same test to be analyzed.

“We want to compare apples with apples,” Martirano said.

Testing data still will be collected and analyzed at the state and county level this year.

Since the test is new, there will be an adjustment period.

“My concern is to make sure kids are prepared and that the learning environment is optimized for them to succeed,” Martirano said. “Because the first year can be challenging with everything being new.”

The test replaces the WESTEST2 standardized test, which was delivered by computer for the first time last year.


Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, https://www.charlestondailymail.com

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