Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

Student Impressions of SBAC Testing

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 05.01.13

SBAC Logo Multiple-choice tests with pencils and paper will be a thing of the past after the 2013-14 school year. California will instead use computer-based assessments through the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium. In preparation for the 2014-15 statewide roll-out, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (also known as SBAC) is conducting pilot tests this spring. These pilot tests are providing local educators and students with opportunities to see and experience the new computer-based assessments.

Sonoma County has a number of schools participating in the Spring 2013 SBAC scientific pilot. I took time to visit with students in one these schools to get their impressions. They were sixth-grade students who were part of the scientific pilot study of mathematics assessments. This interview took place after they had completed the SBAC pilot test and the sixth-grade California STAR test. Here are the questions I asked and a sampling of their responses.

How did the SBAC pilot test compare to the California STAR?

  • SBAC is a lot different
  • I didnít get some of the words on the SBAC
  • Iím not very good at explaining my reasoning; you know an answer and (with SBAC) itís hard to put it in words
  • You have to understand the concept more on the SBAC
  • I like the Ďinteractivenessí of SBAC
  • SBAC was harder in some parts and easier in others
  • You canít just answer the question on SBAC; you have to explain all your work
  • My brother is really bad at reading; SBAC will be very hard for him
  • A paper and pencil test is easier; some problems got hard on the SBAC and I couldnít do them in my head
  • Sometimes the instructions werenít clear about what you were suppose to do
  • There were some questions with content we hadnít been taught

The SBAC is delivered electronically through a computer or tablet. What observations can you make about taking the test electronically?

  • It was hard to get on the website
  • Sometimes it was slow; there was a lag time between when you pressed a button and what happened on the screen
  • It was hard to erase mistakes
  • One time I clicked ďNextĒ and it took 5 seconds for it to respond
  • I like technology a lot, but that didnít help me do any better on the SBAC
  • I had some dragging problems; things didn't go where I wanted them to
  • It was hard to graph stuff
  • Erasing mistakes and changing answers was difficult

How do you think you did on the SBAC?

  • I guessed most of them
  • I have no idea
  • Not very well

Do you have suggestions for other students taking the SBAC?

  • Teachers will need to teach us to explain everything we do
  • Paper and pencil would be good to have
  • Learn how to move things on the test, like clicking and dragging (objects)
  • We havenít had much time to learn about the iPads and the tool to use with it; we could have done better if we had more tutorials

Blog: Technology for Learners