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March 27, 2015

posted Mar 29, 2015, 10:35 AM by jmarcotte@sau4.org
Dear Parents/Guardians,

In the next few weeks, Newfound students will be taking the Smarter Balanced Assessments in Mathematics and English Language Arts.  New Hampshire RSA 193-C:6 requires that all districts administer this statewide assessment to all students in the designated grades (3-8 and 11th grades).  Formerly, this requirement was met under the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).  These tests are designed to measure master of standards, and ultimately determine readiness for college and career education and training.

The Smarter Balanced Assessments are intended to measure critical thinking and problem-solving skills, using real-world applications in both English Language Arts and Mathematics.  The change in assessments will enable teachers to extend and enrich their understanding of student progress as they transition between grade levels, and onto college and career pathways.  These assessments will be untimed, and completed on a computer instead of the traditional paper and pencil methods.  The tests are adaptive and adjust the difficulty of questions based on student responses.  In other words, if a student correctly response to a question, the next question generated will be more challenging.  Tools have been created to assist students with disabilities and English language learners in accessibility. 

Within the English Language Arts assessments, students will read more complex fiction and non-fiction texts and use evidence from these texts to answer questions, make inferences, and present persuasive arguments.  These assessments will emphasize literacy across subject areas, and writing will occur at each tested grade level.  There will be fewer topics on the mathematics assessment, but students will need to explain and justify answer choices.  The tests will offer more than the typical multiple choice questions.  In fact, students will use interactive tools, provide short responses in text boxes, and experience performance tasks that will span real-world applications.  For more information about theses assessments, you can review the materials found at the New Hampshire Smarter Balanced Portal at http://nh.portal.airast.org/.

Testing Schedule
Students in grades 3 and 4 will complete each of these assessments from March 30-April 10, Grade 5 will complete each of these assessments from April 10-April 24.  The estimated total time to complete both tests is approximately seven hours, so tests will be divided into multiple sessions.  Over the past week, our students have had the opportunity to practice and take some training tests to help them learn the test format and on-line tools.  You are welcome to explore the practice and training tests from home by accessing the New Hampshire Smarter Balanced Portal.

In preparation for these tests, we ask that you encourage your child to get plenty of rest the night prior to testing sessions.  Please alert the school if your child will be absent during the testing time frame.

I am confident that our students will show their best effort and take these assessments seriously.  As a school community, we will be vocal cheerleaders when the test gets overwhelming and fatigue sets in.  We will always remember that this assessment is only one way in which to measure growth and the characteristics stated in our mission statement are just as important!

Have a great weekend-