SFUSD schools begin new computer-based testing 

Students in the San Francisco Unified School District began taking online computer-based assessments this week in replacement of the state’s old STAR testing program.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests are designed to measure what students know based on the new Common Core State Standards in language arts and mathematics. The tests, an alternative to the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, focus on critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills.

But the testing system will also lead to technology improvements for SFUSD schools, according to district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.

“This test will require the district to direct way more resources toward making sure we have enough computers at each school,” Blythe said.

The assessment includes field tests that are essentially “testing the test,” according to Blythe, allowing educators to gauge the accuracy and fairness of the test questions before the computer-based testing system is implemented next year.

Blythe said the school district is taking inventory to see how many schools have computers that can get online and run the new test.

“We have some mobile computer labs that we’re bringing to schools on a rotating basis,” which will help with the testing, she said.

A handful of San Francisco schools started the computer testing Tuesday. Testing will continue for the remainder of schools through mid-May since different schools have different testing windows, Blythe said.

All students in third through eighth grades will be tested in English-language arts and/or math, and about 40 percent of 11th graders will take the field test as well, as determined by the California Department of Education. The results of the springtime testing will not be included on student records, she said.

By the time field testing wraps up for all schools in California on June 6, more than 3 million students will have had a chance to try the new system, according to state Superintendent Tom Torlakson.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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