New Testing Underway for Juniors

Chiena Ty, Staff Writer

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In previous years, Cal High juniors enjoyed having a morning or two off while freshmen and sophomores took the STAR test.

That won’t be the case this year.

California is among the states in which juniors are taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessment, which is aligned with the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics.  The new common core standards were created to help students graduate high school better prepared for college.

Juniors stated taking the computer-based California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in their English classes on Wednesday.  These tests, which last six days and run through Wednesday, cover the subjects of English and math, but scores will not be evaluated.

The tests, which are being taken in English 11 classes, have been implemented in replacement of the STAR and include a pencil and paper Early Assessment Program (EAP) tests. The EAP English language arts (ELA) tests will be April 21-24 during U.S. History classes.  There will be an adjusted schedule on April 28 for the EAP math test.

“The scores of the tests would help us determine whether or not students need to take remediation classes offered at Cal High their senior year to prepare them for college,” said English teacher Catie Hawkins, who is serving as the school’s common core teacher on special assignment this year.

The objective of the EAP’s English test is to determine if students are able to demonstrate college and career readiness in English language arts, according to smartbalanced.org. The test also will include a separate writing assignment with a typical essay prompt.

The EAP math test will evaluate students on high school summative math, which includes a combination of Algebra I and II and geometry, Principal Mark Corti said.

“The EAP tests have normally been taken and are not different from last year,” Corti said.  “They were just connected to the STAR test.”

Information from starsamplequestions.org indicates the test results will help identify a student’s individual academic abilities with grade-level requirements and other results of students in the same grade.

Some teachers say their lesson plans will remain unchanged in preparation for this test.

“I think we should teach what we already are teaching and that the results [of the tests] will fall as they may,” math teacher Gary Triebwasser said.

Although the results of these new CAASPP tests will not be recorded, students are asked to perform to the best of their ability in order to have an accurate assessment of its productiveness.

“Taking the [field] test will help with the design of it for next year,” said Corti. “The juniors this year will be sample students to see how it goes.”

As the computer based tests have never been utilized before, teachers and students are curious to see how it will work.

“I don’t know what to expect,” said English teacher Rachel Guerra. “I can’t say it takes more time [away from my schedule] because we’ve never had them before. There’s a lot of questions.”

Junior Ngoc Mai didn’t know much about the new tests.

“I wish more teachers would talk to us about the testing system instead of leaving us in the dark,” Ngoc said.

Teachers have had to make minor adjustments to their schedules to adapt to the new testing this year, but see the positive sides of the tests.

“It has been a challenge [to adjust my schedule] but it has changed the lens in how we work and keeps us on our toes to compromise [the material we teach] to be applicable for the test,” said AP Literature teacher Sean King.

But the students who will be testing are against the test because they believe it does not have any benefits.

“I think it’s unnecessary because [the school] should be able to tell by a students classes and grades whether they need additional classes,” said sophomore Caroline Zhou.

If the CASPP tests are adopted next year, students’ scores will actually count.

“This year is the year of change,” Hawkins said.  “We’re going to take it moment by moment.”