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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Smarter Balanced

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November 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

What’s new about Common Core tests? See for yourself

The room fell silent as heads bowed over test booklets.

I flipped to the first page and all the familiar anxieties flooded back. Will I have enough time? Will I second guess what I know is the right answer?

Relax, I told myself. I wasn’t in the school cafeteria sweating over a blue book, I was in a room of reporters, learning about the differences between old exams like the ones we took in middle school and a new set of exams aligned to the Common Core, which testing experts say measure a deeper level of thinking than ever before. The session was part of a conference on testing put on by the Education Writers Association, which Seattle Times reporter John Higgins and I attended this week.

We answered sample questions from a few different tests, including one from an old fourth-grade reading exam from an unidentified state, and another from the Smarter Balanced test, one of the two new tests based on Common Core learning standards. Roughly 20 states are starting to use Smarter Balanced, including Washington. (And you can do a little of the same, in the quiz at the end of this post.)

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Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, Smarter Balanced, testing

October 7, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Common Core tests now a ticket out of college remedial classes

A new agreement among the state’s public colleges will raise the value of a couple of Washington’s high-school exams.

The new math and reading exams, which are called Smarter Balanced and will be given to all Washington 11th-graders this spring, will factor not just into whether students graduate, but whether they need to take remedial classes in college.

The new tests are designed to measure whether 11th graders are on track to meeting the new Common Core state standards  a set of learning goals that most states are starting to use. Students who score at the top two levels will be placed directly into college-level math and English when they enter any Washington public two- or four-year college.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, higher ed, Smarter Balanced