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Walnut Valley Launches Trial Run of New Computer-Based Assessments

NEWS                                                                                    Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   880 S. Lemon Avenue
March 27, 2014                                                                     Walnut, CA 91789

Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204

Walnut Valley Launches Trial Run of New Computer-Based Assessments

WALNUT, CA—This week, Walnut Valley Unified School District teachers and students, embarked on becoming part of an important milestone in the State’s transition to the new assessment system.

The computer-based field tests, known as the Smarter Balanced Assessments, in English-language arts and math launched on Tuesday, March 24 for all students in grades 3-8, 10th graders at Walnut High and 11th graders at Diamond Bar High.

Walnut Valley’s testing window is March 24 through April 25.

"It is an exciting time in Walnut Valley as we embark on implementing the new Smarter Balanced computer-based assessments. Our teachers and students are excited to transition to this new testing system. Everyone involved in this year’s field test has been working together to ensure this field test is a positive and valuable experience for our students and staff, " said Jackie Brown, Director of Educational Programs and Assessment.

“Students, teachers, and administrators will gain valuable hands-on experience in a new era of student assessments,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

It is a challenging transformation, but our schools are rising to that challenge with a great sense of excitement and determination,” he said.

This “test of the test” will help students and teachers prepare for next year’s first operational test.  Test questions are aligned with the Common Core State Standards adopted by California in 2010 to encourage critical thinking, complex problem solving, and deeper knowledge of subjects.

It will also allow the District to assess the quality of the test questions and see how well our technical capabilities meet the demands of the computer-based assessments and see what resources our teachers and schools may yet need.

Most importantly, it will give our students the opportunity to experience the new testing system. There will be no student, school, or district scores produced from this administration of the assessment.

“This field test gives us the opportunity to prepare our students for success,” Torlakson said. “The STAR program served us well for years, but the world has changed, and our schools also have to change the way they teach and test their students.”

“The opportunity to get our students to think critically, collaborate, and be innovative is really exciting to see,” said Walnut High Scholl Principal Jeff Jordan.

“This is a great opportunity to have the students practice taking the online assessment. We are learning a lot from the process that will make us better next year,” he added.

Diamond Bar High Language arts teacher Robby Jung said the field test actually began long before students sat down in front of computers to take the first batch of tests.

“I know there are many at our site who put a lot of time and effort into making sure that every challenge, scenario, and situation was addressed before. So, when you have the best students and staff in the world working on this together, the day of the test was really focused on the test itself. I believe that students were truly able to walk into a new testing environment with a minimum level of anxiety due to the new setting, and that enabled them to achieve at their highest level. And not two minutes into our first break did we (staff) get together to already talk about some minor adjustments to make the testing environment even better for next time,” he said.

DBHS junior Megan Bertrand had a positive experience taking the field test.

“It was nice to be able to take the test online using a computer. The process was faster and we didn’t have to spend a lot of time passing out a bunch of materials. It really allowed me to focus on the test itself,” she said.