SBAC Review

Vrinda Chauhan, Staff Writer

The good news is that no one ever has to take another STAR test ever again. However, according to a sampling of juniors who took the test, all may not be fun and games for the coming years. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test left many juniors upset.

Described as a difficult and even unbearable experience by the DBHS juniors, the SBAC field test sought to test students’ abilities to analyze a problem and take necessary steps to reach a solution. As a result, students were not graded on the solution itself, but their thinking process.

“On a test, it’s either the right or wrong answer, but for this test, it’s [focused on] how you got to the answer. But they also grade a right and wrong way to get to the answer, so even if you got the answer right, if your work was the wrong way, you get it wrong. In the end, it really shouldn’t matter, because if the answer is right, it’s simply right,” junior Sharon Byeon said.

Byeon wasn’t the only one with this perspective. Many juniors believed that their own curriculum did not prepare them for the challenging questions presented on the test. One such junior was Joren Francisco, who also disliked the lack of multiple choice questions on the test. Another common complaint was the wording of the directions, which made simple questions seem unnecessarily difficult.

“The way they worded things was weird. I spent the longest time on a really simple question because I didn’t understand what it was asking,” junior Kahayla Rapolla said.

Teachers and proctors ran into some problems during the test as well. This was caused not only by the new test format, but also by uncooperative student behavior.

“I think the main problem we encountered was that some students didn’t take it as easily as others and you can see them rushing through the test as you monitor it. Another difficulty was the part where proctors had to direct a group of students in a literary comprehensive part of the test, [because] it was really difficult to get students to produce responses and ideas that would ultimately count toward their score,” proctor Marc Natividad commented.

However, according to Instructional Dean Gabriel Aguilar, the coordinator of the SBAC, the test was simply a “test-drive” to inquire the level of difficulty students can handle. Sophomores, he explained, will have a greater advantage in this test next year, as Common Core curriculum will be by then implemented. Therefore, students will be more familiar with and prepared for the types of questions on the test.

“It’s no surprise students didn’t like it; they were simply used to a different way of testing. Students are trained to test well, but this test challenges your ability to comprehend the material in front of you and apply it in the real world. It’s mainly a challenge because it’s a transition,” Aguilar said.