Friday, June 14, 2013

CST and SBAC Questions

I compared a few questions from CST and SBAC. CST stands for California Standards Tests and these are questions that were on previous STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) tests given to students in California and have been released to the public. I'm using recently released practice questions from SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) that have been designed with Math 6 and Math 7 Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mind.

I'm curious what thoughts or questions you might have. Leave them below. Thanks.

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for putting this together. I haven't seen it done in a video format before. Clearly there is a big difference between the depth of knowledge required to pick the correct answer from a set of 4 choices versus having to be able to explain why someone is wrong and calculate the correct answer.

    Is your goal from this video to show to teachers that students will need to demonstrate their mathematical understandings in a more rigorous manner?

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    1. I tried to remain as objective as possible, without inserting too many opinions along the way. It's an unpolished version and I'd still like to compare some SBAC Math 8 practice questions to Algebra CST released questions. I know I was skimpy on the details in the blog post, but I did that on purpose. My goal is to allow viewers to make their own brief conclusions. I'd like others to investigate the bigger picture more. This is merely a snapshot. Yes, I'd like for teachers to see "students will need to demonstrate their mathematical understandings in a more rigorous manner." I couldn't have said it better.

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  2. As a Maths teacher in the UK, I'm struck by the similarity between the SBAC questions and many of the questions on our national assessments for students up to the age of 14. I can give you more information if you're interested.

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    1. Hi Jeremy,

      That'd be great. I'd love to have more sample or practice questions for students.

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  3. Andrew,
    This is a fantastic question comparison! Funny that you do not need to voice much opinion because I think the comparisons truly speak for themselves. I agree with Robert that the questions undeniably have great difference in depth of knowledge, requiring students to demonstrate their understanding.

    From a K-5 perspective (because that is the world in which I live :) I believe students who have strong conceptual understanding in our elementary grades could even grapple their way through some of the 6th grade questions, which would not occur if we were teaching "more traditional" or void of the Mathematical Practices.

    I guess the only question I have, is on the temperature question, why do you think the writers didn't initially ask if Robert's claim was correct or incorrect? It has them explain why he is incorrect. Interesting.

    As always, thank you because I definitely will be using this in PLCs with my teachers.

    -Kristin

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    1. Hi Kristin,

      Re: "why do you think the writers didn't initially ask if Robert's claim was correct or incorrect?'
      Good question. I too found it interesting that the test taker is told it's incorrect. My best guess is that it gives the student more direction when completing the task and not leaving it completely open-ended. For example, "Is Robert correct? If so, explain. If not, explain."

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  4. wow, two different ballgames. the new stuff looks like a much richer challenge. i'm looking forward to it.

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  5. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for putting this together. I am as interested in HOW you produced the video (what tools, program etc) as the content.(Uh, please elaborate?)

    For me, the largest difference I see for Grade 6, is that Smarter Balance has a teaching element as you work the question. In the third example SB shows that the thinking is in correct and gives the student an opportunity to examine why. In the first and second case in 6th grade the skill set is the same, only the way to display the data is different (in the first example SB TELLS us the solution is incorrect, so, again a teaching opportunity, but why tell us it isn't correct...what is so different about that over just asking us for the correct answer?)

    Loved the first 7th grade question with the chart. Yummy! Though could be very time consuming! I am concerned that SB is very time consuming...I like the thoughtfulness, but I can see the stress that extended testing puts on students. If it is say, 15 juicy questions, I am okay with that. (the abs. value CST is just stupid)

    Loved your video, so illuminating. I will make sure to link and shout about it on my blog...it is a very worthy and important task!
    Thanks, as always, Andrew!

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    1. Hi Amy,

      I used Keynote to import screenshots of questions and mask certain parts of each question so I could "illuminate" the part I was talking about. I completed a slide deck, opened a screen recorder application I have, and pressed record.
      Thanks for stopping in, you raise some valuable points and observations. I think SBAC will be time consuming as well. However, I want to say I heard that the tests will be taken over the course of the year. I want to know more.

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    2. I will check out Keynote. Thanks. A

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    3. Amy,
      I just uploaded a short video tutorial on using Keynote's mask feature. You can find it here:
      https://vimeo.com/69583283

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  6. Andrew
    Thanks for the video! I agree with Robert, this new testing approach is much more rigorous. I began to wonder how many more/less questions will be asked, how much time it would take a student to work through a test, etc.
    The new questions definitely validate the "find my mistake" approach to teaching math. We are not only just solving for the correct answers, but looking for wrong or alternate answers.
    Thanks

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    1. Hi Dan,

      I agree, the new questions validate the "find my mistake" strategies. I find it encouraging to incorporate more "mistakes" for students to find and opportunities for students to give their peers feedback on classroom tasks.

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  7. I was aware of the changes but your video reinforces the need for professional development as well as the resources to support this "shift". Good thing Arne Duncan is giving a one year extension on tying test scores to teacher evaluations.

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  8. Thanks for in the in-depth analysis. It's really helpful. Unfortunately, this is going to take a long time for students to be able to perceiver through these problems. The examples you go through would take at least a half hour for students to do, even longer if they have to "figure" out the graphing tool, how to write an equation, and simplify every answer to see if it is equivalent.

    How can this test accurately evaluate students and teachers when the problems take five minutes or longer to do? If you are given a two-hour window to do the test, that only 24 problems being assessed. Your career and mine are going to be determined on 24 questions for a whole year, or in the case of the high school three years. My students did the pilot, the ones that actually tried took at least 5 minutes or longer on a problem. After 30 minutes, it became a click fest.

    Once again, we are going to have to pay a lot of money to have access to the practice exams and other resources materials and spend valuable time getting students proficient on testing on a computer. And we'll be in the same place we started with: 50% failure in Algebra 1 and students hating math.

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    1. I hear ya Rich...
      You raise some valid concerns. I think the practice questions will allow both teachers and students to have a test-run with timing, the testing interface, and expectations. There will definitely be a learning curve for all students and teachers. I've heard that these tests will be given at various parts of the year. I want to know more about this. That said, we need to do our best to avoid a "click-fest" and I think that starts with providing our students with in-class tasks that help them strengthen their perseverance and problem-solving, regardless of a computer interface..

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  9. Marshal HS Math TeacherJuly 25, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    The difficulty level of the 6th grade SB test was so far above the 7th grade California test it made me laugh. Was that just me? Every test has easy, medium and hard questions. Were you comparing easy Cal. questions with hard SB questions? Is there a whole battery of easier SB questions accessible? I had heard that these will be differentiated tests where questions will get easier or harder depending on how students start. Is that true? I would hate to hype kids up for a big test and then have them not able to do 80% of it.

    I'm all for raising the bar, but we generally go up a few inches each try, not three feet. Maybe I am too timid. Teachers, especially those in a mixed urban or rural setting, is it possible for middle school to make a quantum leap in what math kids master during those years? What percent of your kids could earn a 60% or higher on the questions shown? My guess is less than half of our high school freshman could.

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    1. Re: "Were you comparing easy Cal. questions with hard SB questions? Is there a whole battery of easier SB questions accessible? I had heard that these will be differentiated tests where questions will get easier or harder depending on how students start. Is that true?"
      I compared questions with similar concepts. Neither CST nor SBAC categorize their questions as easy, average, or difficult so I just looked for those with similar concepts. I also heard that the tests will be differentiated. I'm curious to see how that plays out.
      I made this video trying my best to eliminate any bias, allowing the viewer to make their own conclusions or derive their own inquisitive questions. You have many of the same questions I do. I think only time will tell. I wouldn't worry about trying to "hype" kids up regarding these tests, at least not the way CST questions can. One thing I noticed is how the SBAC questions can be very text heavy and with multiple directives. This puts a large charge on our english teachers as well to help students be better language equipped.
      Re: "What percent of your kids could earn a 60% or higher on the questions shown?"
      Fair question. I'm not sure, but I'm planning on challenging my students with the SBAC practice questions this year. Watch this space for any reports.
      Thanks Marshal for checking in.

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  10. The SBAC test questions were exponentially more difficult than the CST question. My son has ADHD and, knowing how his brain processes things, I think he would get flustered with the SBAC questions and end up with a 0. There are so many steps in the thought process to get to the end of the answer. At some point he would get tripped up along the way. He could answer the CST questions though. The SBAC questions were even hard for me, and I was a good student. I aced the CST questions that were presented. I think they are going to find, after the first round of testing, that they have to make these tests easier. I like what the previous poster said about raising the bar. Let's do it, but incrementally. I'm also wondering about accommodations or different versions of the test. There are kids who know this material who won't be able to wade through the complex way these questions are presented.

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  11. Also, thank you for making this video. I've been wanting to learn more about Common Core and there's not a lot of concise information out there yet. I appreciate you taking the time.

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