Common Core Standards Replace STAR Testing

By Holly Parkin

In connection with new Common Core standards, a standardized test called the Smarter Balanced test will be implemented at Tam in the 2014-2015 school year, replacing Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR). The STAR test will be replaced at all grade levels, however, at high school level, the new test will only be administered to juniors. The Smarter Balanced test, which evaluates math and English proficiency, is computerized and offers new methods of testing.

“Common Core focuses on a lot of in-depth information, in terms of how to read and analyze material, and think critically,” principal Julie Synyard said.

Whereas the STAR test focused more on fact-based learning, the Smarter Balanced exam is designed to test critical thinking. The exam includes multiple choice questions as well as new problem types, such as written or drag-and-drop elements. The Smarter Balanced test also uses adaptive technology. For example, if a student is asked questions about trigonometry, and continually answers incorrectly, the test automatically asks the student easier questions to match their skill level.

“I don’t think it matters so much that [the Smarter Balanced test] is computerized,” math teacher Rebecca Henn said. “I think it’s more going to be a big change in terms of the type of problems [students] are used to on STAR tests to this format.”

In spring 2014, the only STAR test that will be administered is the life science test for 10th graders, according to Synyard. Further details about the standardized testing schedule are yet to be determined. “I am meeting with the district office folks during [the week of December 16] to discuss plans and hear more information,” Synyard said.

In 2014, a pilot exam is planned for Tam students to see how students adapt to the Smarter Balanced test.