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    Smarter Balanced Assessment and Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science Information and Windows
    Posted on 03/18/2019
    Students working together at a desk

    Smarter Balanced Assessment and Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science Information and Windows

    Every year, Washington state requires all school districts to administer assessments in math, science, and English language arts (ELA). School leaders will share their testing schedule directly with families. Each school is encouraged to select testing dates responsive to the unique needs of their school community.

    Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA)

    • The testing window for math and ELA state assessments for grades 3-8 and 10-11, called the Smarter Balanced Assessment, is March 4 – June 7.

    The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) is an important annual assessment of student learning. The SBA assesses what students should know and be able to do in math and English language arts (ELA) at each tested grade level. Alignment between the test and our academic standards means teachers and school leaders can use the results to adjust teaching for the next school year and better support individual students’ academic goals, strengths, and needs. The SBA assessments are also designed to build skills needed for success in college and career, including complex thinking and multi-step problem solving. While the SBA is an important measure of student success, the district also recognizes it is just one way for students to show what they have already learned.

    The Smarter Balanced website has more details for families and practice tests with examples of the types of questions students will answer.

    Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

    Students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will also take the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS), which was first administered to students in Spring 2018. These tests fulfill the federal requirement that students be tested in science at each level: elementary, middle, and high school.

    • The window for students in grades 5 and 8 will be April 15- June 7.
    • The window for students in 11th grade will be May 6- June 7.

    Passing the WCAS will be a graduation requirement for students in the class of 2021 and beyond. The WCAS measures students’ learning based on Washington State’s 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards. The standards are organized into four fields in Science: Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences; Engineering; Technology; and Applications of Science.

    For more information on test questions, training tests, and test design, visit the OSPI Science Assessment Page.

    In addition, you can view a presentation from the SPS Science Curriculum and Science Department about the WCAS.

    Can students opt out of the state required tests?

    While district administration of state assessments is required, families have the right to opt out of participation. The district is required to have at least 95 percent participation in order to receive full federal funding.

    Opt out requests must be made in writing and provided to the school principal on an annual basis. For your convenience, a form is provided on the Smarter Balanced FAQ webpage.

    The school will do their best to accommodate your child during the testing period if you choose to opt out. Generally, that means finding them a quiet place to read or do homework (in the office or library). Since teachers are usually engaged in supervising the assessments, we are unable to provide alternative instruction.

    Accommodations for students observing Ramadan

    This year, the state-scheduled testing windows overlap with the Muslim observance of Ramadan.

    While we can’t adjust the state’s testing period, the district assessment team has provided school-based guidance on how to best support students and families. This is part of ongoing efforts to be more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive of the many families and faith practices represented in Seattle Public Schools.

    School leaders are encouraged to consider their school population and students’ faith practices when scheduling the required tests, check in with students who may be fasting, and provide student accommodations in partnership with families who are observing Ramadan.

    For more information about state assessments, please see the district’s Smarter Balanced FAQ webpage.