Statewide SBAC scores beat projections

Idaho students did better than expected this spring on new tests aligned to Idaho Core Standards.

But it’s unclear how schools and districts stack up — and it’s unclear when those detailed results will be released.

The State Department of Education released statewide test results Wednesday. And state officials were encouraged by the first set of numbers from the new Idaho Standards Achievement Test by Smarter Balanced, better known as SBAC.

Some 156,000 students took the tests, administered in the third through eighth grades and 11th grade. At nearly every grade level, and in math and English language arts, students beat projections.

For example, 41 percent of 11th graders had been projected to receive a “proficient” or “advanced” score in English language arts; 61 percent of students hit this threshold. English language arts grades beat projections across the board.

Most math scores beat projections as well. Only 11th-grade math scores came up short; 33 percent of students were expected to score “proficient” or “advanced,” and 30 percent reached this mark.

The projections were set by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — the multi-state vendor that developed the Idaho exam. A panel of 500 teachers, including 20 Idaho teachers, reached the projections by reviewing results from Idaho’s 2014 SBAC test run.

After last year’s test trial, the 2015 SBAC results will count for the first time — as a measurement of student growth and school performance. The results also provide an early yardstick, two years into the implementation of the Idaho Core Standards.

The statewide numbers are encouraging, State Department of Education spokesman Jeff Church said Wednesday. The results, he said, show that Idaho teachers are working hard to implement the new academic standards and gear instruction to the spring assessments.

But until the state sees more detail — district- and school-level results — officials aren’t reading too much into the numbers.

Vendors still haven’t compiled these more detailed results.

“We’re looking at collecting that information, hopefully sooner rather than later,” Church said.

The SBAC grading process has been fraught by a series of technical and staffing problems. Vendors had pledged to deliver scores within 10 days of testing — the testing window ran from March 30 to May 22. However, districts had been waiting weeks for their scores.

Districts now have their local scores, Church said — and can at least compare these results with the statewide scores.