Field Test

Smarter Balanced conducted a Field Test from March 25 – June 6, 2014 (on request, an optional makeup week was available June 9-13). The Field Test was a practice run of the assessment system that helped ensure that test questions are accurate and fair for all students. It also gave teachers and schools a chance to gauge their readiness in advance of the first operational assessment in spring 2015.  All 21 Governing States and the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in the  Field Test.


Student and School Participation

More than 4.2 million students in grades 3-8 and 11—including a small sample of students in grades 9 and 10—participated in the Field Test. Administered online, the Field Test closely resembled the summative assessment that students will participate in during the spring of 2015. Most students completed a test in one subject: either English language arts/literacy or mathematics. While the Smarter Balanced assessment is untimed, each subject area is expected to take 2.5 to 4 hours to complete. Schools administered the Field Test over multiple days. Because questions may be revised or dropped after the Field Test, students will not receive scores. Each Smarter Balanced state individually determined how schools and students would be selected to take the Field Test. In some states, only a representative sample of students participated—10 percent of students for each subject area. In others, the Field Test was administered more broadly. For additional information about Smarter Balanced in your state, contact your state education agency.

An Essential Step in Test Development

The Field Test represents a major milestone toward developing next-generation assessments. It serves several important purposes.

  • Quality Assurance: The Field Test evaluates the performance of more than 19,000 assessment items and performance tasks—as well as the performance of the online testing system. For test developers, the Field Test shows which questions work well and which ones need to be improved so that they contribute to a fair and accurate assessment of student achievement.
  • Achievement Standards: Data from the Field Test will allow Smarter Balanced to set preliminary achievement standards in fall 2014. These achievement standards will indicate whether or not students are on track to achieve college and career readiness in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.
  • Test Administration: For member states, the Field Test provides an opportunity to make sure technology systems and administration logistics are ready for implementation of the assessment system in the 2014-15 school year.

Designed for All Students

Smarter Balanced is committed to producing assessments that are accurate and fair for all students. The Consortium has developed usability, accessibility, and accommodation features to ensure that students have a positive and productive assessment experience that generates fair and accurate estimates of each student’s achievement. All usability, accessibility and accommodation features are available for students in the Field Test, consistent with the Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodation Guidelines. Further, students with disabilities, English language learners, and English language learners with disabilities are included among Field Test participants. Students took great advantage of these tools and resources during the Field Test, using accessibility and accommodation features in one-third of test sessions.

Developed with Educators

The Field Test represents one of the final stages in a lengthy development process to ensure that the Smarter Balanced Assessment System measures the depth and breadth of the Common Core State Standards. Over the past two years, working with K-12 teachers and higher education faculty, Smarter Balanced developed, reviewed, and tested thousands of assessment items and performance tasks. In 2013, Smarter Balanced conducted a Pilot Test of a smaller number of assessment items in a sample of schools across the country. Information from the Pilot Test informed the development of additional assessment items and performance tasks, accessibility options and accommodations, and the design of the test interface.

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