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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Become a Smarter Balanced Pilot School!

The first large scale Smarter Balanced Pilot Test will be administered this spring to students in grades 3–11. The Pilot will be a computer-based administration in the content areas of English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. Items are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and will include selected response, constructed response, and performance tasks.

Schools will be able to participate in the Pilot in one of two ways.

  1. “Volunteer” school: open to all schools in Smarter Balanced states and will ensure that all schools have the opportunity to experience the basic functionality of the system
  2. “Scientific” school: targets a representative sample of schools and yields critical data about the items developed to date as well as about how the system is functioning

Participation and Expectations 

  • Volunteering Schools (Released Test Items available during the second half of the Pilot Test window): All schools are encouraged to volunteer to participate in the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test. All schools that volunteer will receive an opportunity to administer a version of the assessment. Schools are invited to indicate their interest in volunteering for the Pilot by registering via the online survey. REGISTER NOW TO BECOME A VOLUNTEER PILOT SCHOOL.
  • Scientifically Selected Schools (two-week window between February 20 to May 10, 2013): Schools (approximately 10% in each state) will be selected to participate in this Pilot based on predetermined demographic criteria, to ensure that the Pilot items are administered to a representative sample of students. Selected schools will be contacted between late November 2012 and January 2013 to be invited to participate in the scientific component of the Pilot Test. 
Administration Time
For scheduling purposes, schools should plan for approximately three hours of testing, per grade per content area. Testing times will vary depending on the subject area, grade, and type of module provided. Scientifically selected schools will be requested to administer the Pilot Test in no more than two grades. Only one content area (ELA or mathematics) will be administered for each grade within a school. The Release Test Items will be available for the other grades and content areas.

Technical Requirements for Participation
The online test delivery system will work on a variety of hardware/operating system configurations. Computers used for the Pilot assessment administration must meet certain minimum requirements to function effectively. Most current systems will work, with the caveat that faster processors and more hard drive space will improve performance. Detailed information on minimum specifications for Smarter Balanced systems will be made available to all Smarter Balanced states on December 4, 2012.

Accommodations and Testing Features
Some of the most common online accommodations and testing features will be available for the Pilot. The accommodations on the Pilot assessment will not be representative of the full array of accommodations and testing features that will ultimately be available.

If you have any questions, please contact American Institutes for Research 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Call for Participation in Speak Up 2012

Would you like to hear from your stakeholders about looking for a way to engage your stakeholders?

Would you like to include stakeholders in your strategic planning & budgeting?

Are you looking for new ways to engage students in learning?

Gain insights into your students’ aspirations for using technology to learn, as well as share your own insights, aspirations and classroom practices through Speak Up 2012.
Speak Up is a National Research Project, facilitated by Project Tomorrow, which collects the views of students, educators and parents about the use of technology for learning.  The online survey is open October 3rd through December 14th. The survey is open to any school or district, best of all it is free and all information is 100% confidential. 

Survey question topics include:  learning and teaching with technology, 21st century skills, science and math instruction, career exploration, emerging technologies (such as Web 2.0, mobile devices & BYOD, online learning and digital content), professional development, school-to-home communications, online assessment and investment recommendations for 21st century schools.

Why participate? Get the pulse of what’s happening in your school (or district) and benchmark it with national results. As a participant, you will receive free online access to your results in Feb 2013.  Ensure that the perspective of you and your students are included in the local, state and national education dialogue as we share the national findings with policymakers, educators, university faculty and staff from education and youth serving organizations.

To learn more about Speak Up or to register your institution to participate, please visit or contact Jenny Hostert at

Since 2003, over 2.6 million participants have shared their views through the Speak Up National Research Project, representing the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered views and opinions of students, parents and educators on critical 21st century education issues.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Math Fluency: Simply 'fast' and 'accurate'?

Attention all K-5 parents and teachers!
As mathematics educators at all levels consider effective implementation and instruction related to state or Common Core State Standards, a frequently asked question is, 
"What does it mean to be fluent in mathematics?" 
The answer, more often than not, is, "Fast and accurate." Building fluency should involve more than speed and accuracy. It must reach beyond procedures and computation. 

Did you know?
There are actually three aspects to mathematical fluency. If we don't stress each, we're not doing what we need to be doing with our students:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Efficiency
  3. Find out the third here

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

High School Math Contest: Real World Design Challenge

The Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) is an annual competition that provides high school students, grades 9-12, the opportunity to work on real world engineering challenges in a team environment. Each year, student teams will be asked to address a challenge that confronts our nation's leading industries. Students will utilize professional engineering software to develop their solutions and will also generate presentations that convincingly demonstrate the value of their solutions. The RWDC provides students with opportunities to apply the lessons of the classroom to the technical problems that are being faced in the workplace.

What to find out more?