The evolving two-pronged approach would give states the option of using a version of the Smarter Balanced test whose multiple sessions and classroom activities span nearly 6½ hours in grades 3-5, close to seven hours in grades 6-8, and eight hours in high school, or the group’s original version, which lasts about four hours longer in grades 3-8 and about five hours longer in high school.
Because the assessments would be built on the same blueprint, with a mix of multiple-choice, constructed-response, and technology-enhanced items, as well as lengthy performance tasks, the two versions would deliver comparable results, said Joe Willhoft, the executive director of the consortium. And both would produce the school-, district- and state-level information needed to meet federal accountability requirements, he said.
Both versions would yield overall scores for each student in mathematics and English/language arts, as well as some results within each of those subjects, such as a separate score for students’ writing and research skills, or for their grasp of math concepts and procedures, Mr. Willhoft said.
The shorter version of the test would not assess an individual student’s performance as accurately. However some states in the 25-state coalition had threatened to back out if the long test — nearly 12 hours for high school students — was the only choice.