Common Core tests well under way

Common Core student testWith less than two months of instruction time left before summer vacation for most California schools, roughly half of the 3.2 million students expected to take the first online tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards have begun to do so, the California Department of Education reported Monday.

“From what we understand, things are going well,” said department spokeswoman Pam Slater. “We haven’t had a lot of reports of computer malfunctions and we’re happy with results so far.”

The computer-based tests, known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, are replacing the multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper California Standards Tests that students had been taking since 1998.

School districts began administering the tests on March 10, with testing windows varying widely among different districts, depending on their instructional calendars. Most districts will complete testing by mid-June, although a small number of California schools that offer year-long instruction will be giving the tests up until Aug. 31.

The assessments, in math and English Language Arts, are being given to students in grades 3 through 8 and 11. The test developer, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, has estimated the tests will take students between seven and eight-and-a-half hours to complete, but it is up to the schools to decide precisely how to schedule the assessments. Slater has said that in most cases students are taking the tests over several days, in blocks of time as short as 30 minutes to an hour.

Of the more than 1.6 million students who have embarked on the tests to date, 573,299 have so far completed the tests in English language arts and literacy, and 366,794 have finished the tests in math.

“We think this is a really big week for the testing, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the system,” said Cindy Kazanis, the state’s director for educational data management.

At the peak so far, 287,778 students were online at the same time, with no interruption in the state system monitoring results, Kazanis said. She expected that number to increase this week, but said she was confident that districts will avoid major problems.

“We’re not getting any panicked calls that this isn’t working,” she said.

Originally published by EdSource.