Wisconsin is focused on creating a balanced assessment system, a group of interrelated components designed to support the ongoing teaching and learning cycle. This system of assessment tools will meet multiple needs of students and educators. One test cannot do everything. One test cannot answer all questions. For instance, summative tests are not created to diagnose an individual student’s needs with respect to his or her classroom instruction. On the other hand, formative assessments are designed around the “what’s next” question. The assessment system must also be part of a 21st century system of learning by working together with standards, curriculum, instruction, and support structures to ensure students are college and career ready.
To meet the recommendations of the Next Generation Assessment Task Force and achieve the goal of a balanced assessment system, Wisconsin joined the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in Spring 2010 as a governing state. The state-led consortium was formed in response to the Race to the Top assessment grant competition designed to develop an innovative assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Collectively, SBAC states educate 22 million public K-12 students. At the foundation of the new assessment system are principles that mirror the recommendations of Wisconsin’s Next Generation Assessment Task Force.
The SBAC summative assessment will be a computer-adaptive test that includes multiple choice questions, technology-enhanced items, and performance tasks. Students will have two opportunities to test. The system will provide benchmark tools and formative strategies that will continuously guide instruction and provide classroom teachers with real-time information. All components of the assessment system will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The entire assessment system will leverage technology as extensively as possible. The SMARTER assessment system is scheduled to be operational in 2014-15.