It’s that time of year again and high school students statewide are preparing for testing. Finals are straightforward enough; they are based on material learned throughout the year. The newest state test, the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) math test, is a different story. Previously, this test was taken by juniors and wasn’t required for graduation. This year, juniors and sophomores will take it, and in the future only sophomores will be tested.
The SBAC is based on concepts from algebra, geometry and algebra II, even though most sophomores haven’t taken algebra II yet. Depending on the grading system, sophomores may have difficulty meeting standard, or juniors will easily get into the “advanced” category. Conversely there are advanced students who last studied some of these topics three years ago and may have forgotten the more obscure details.
Another issue is that because this test is now required for graduation, teachers have extra pressure to help students pass, but with recent changes many teachers don’t know what topics to cover. In the end, this testing system can lead to students who don’t know all the material, and teachers who don’t know how to help them.