Confusion surrounds CAPT replacement test

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Jenny Lupoff, Staff Writer

Earlier this year, it was announced that starting in the 2014-2015 school year, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test (SBAC) would officially replace the CAPT test. Though CAPT is taken by sophomores, juniors will be the only high schoolers taking the test for the 2014-2015 school year. This is because last year, when schools had the option to pilot the test, Staples opted out and gave the CAPT, as usual.

According to its website, the SBAC is an online assessment that “will cover the full range of college-and-career-ready knowledge and skills in the Common Core State Standards.”

While juniors are well aware that they will take the SBAC this year, they seem to not be entirely sure of what the test is or how they will be prepped for it. “I know it involves technology, but our teachers just told us that we were going to be taking it in the spring and haven’t mentioned it otherwise,” Jillian Kleiner ’16 said.

Angela Yu ’16 agrees. Yu thinks it’s weird that her teachers have not really  mentioned the test, particularly since “last year, they prepared us for the CAPT so well,” Yu said.

Yet, according to English teacher Sue O’Hara, the reason for the lack of prep material is because there is no precise way to prepare for the SBAC. CAPT could be precisely prepared for because we “knew the exact type of questions…this is a more broad test that is designed to make sure we are in line with the Common Core,” O’Hara said.

According to Julie Heller,  the English department chair, the prep for SBAC has already begun. “Last year we started putting a greater emphasis on informational texts, which is not something that has been done in traditional English classes, but it’s a big part of the [Common Core] standards,” Heller said.  The other change implemented in order to prep for the test is that “all teachers are now teaching kids in all grades to write argument essays,” Heller said.

In order to prepare for the math section of the test, there has not been much of a need for curriculum changes within the math department. According to John Wetzel, head of the math department, the Common Core for math is broken down in terms of what should be taught to students by 11th grade. “If you compare [the standards] with what most of our kids are taking in 11th grade and before, they would have been taught nearly all of these by 11th grade. That is why there has not been a sweeping reform for the SBAC,” Wetzel said.

According to Wetzel,  what may present a challenge for all departments is the technology aspect of the test. “But I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal since the majority of students are tech savvy,” Wetzel said.

According to director of technology, Natalie Carrignan, a plan on how to familiarize students with the technology will be presented to the Board of Education in December.