PA Teacher of the Year: Smarter Balanced Reflects What Students Should Know

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Anthony Grisillo, the 2014-15 teacher of the year in Pennsylvania, recently participated in a study by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). Grisillo, a teacher librarian, along with a dozen or so other teachers, reviewed the Smarter Balanced fifth-grade assessment against former state tests in Oregon and Nevada.

In a blog article in Education Post, he came away impressed with Smarter Balanced, not only in how it reflected grade-level knowledge, but also how Smarter Balanced includes teachers in developing the assessment.

Said Grisillo, “The study affirms that we can create and refine our assessments to make them meaningful, reflecting what students should be able to know and do.”

Read more about the NNSTOY report, titled “Still on the Right Trajectory,” by clicking here. Below is an excerpt from Grisillo’s blog:

Anthony Grisillo

Anthony Grisillo

Through a project with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, I took the fifth-grade math versions of the Smarter Balanced assessment (used by several states), the OAKS from Oregon, and the Nevada state test. Then we compared the Smarter Balanced assessment with the OAKs and the Nevada test.

Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) to gauge rigor, it became evident rather quickly that one test met the criteria more than the other two. The Smarter Balanced test, when judged by DOK, not only used deeper, more thought-provoking questions, it also reflected sound assessment practices appropriate for the grade level taking the test. Though the other two state tests attempted to be less traditional, they just ended up being too wordy or confusing.

The results of the research showed that I am not alone in my preference for the Smarter Balanced assessment. Other study participants agreed that it used an appropriate amount of rigor for grade five. They also noticed shortcomings in the other two tests. While the results of the research study did not surprise me, I have to admit I am excited by the idea that the Smarter Balanced test reflects what teachers actually teach and what students are expected to know in fifth grade.

Read Grisillo’s full blog article here.