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 What the New Assessments Will Look Like

​Students across the state will start taking new assessments in the spring of 2015, and parents may be wondering what the new exams and the new reports they generate will look like.

The assessments will be completely online and feature a variety of different types of questions as well as the typical multiple-choice ones. With performance tasks and more written responses, they will require a deeper understanding of key concepts and stronger problem-solving skills than previous tests did.

The increased rigor and emphasis on critical thinking is part of the Common Core State Standards created by state and education officials. California and more than 40 other states have voluntarily approved the standards.

Students in grades 3 through 8 along with those in grade 11 will take the new online assessments in English language arts and mathematics.

After logging on to a computer, students will answer questions in clusters with the ability to flag and return to ones they weren’t sure about. There will be about 60 questions in the first part of the two-part assessment. Depending on whether students answer the questions correctly or not, the test will adjust with easier or more difficult questions.

Students will take the second part of the assessment on another day. It includes the performance tasks, which will require students to complete more in-depth projects that demonstrate analytical skills and real-world problem solving.

Because the assessments are all online, the results will be available to parents and educators much more quickly than they were in the past. The new assessments are also expected to include for the first time how much growth specific students have made since the previous test.

With the new system, parents and educators will be able to easily compare student achievement between schools, districts and states to ensure that students are making progress.

The tests were created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a collaborative state-led group comprised of educators, researchers, policymakers and community groups.

School districts have prepared for these new assessments in English language arts and mathematics by participating in a testing pilot, upgrading technology, and providing professional development for teachers and administrators.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics.

The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school ready for college or the workforce.

For more information about the Common Core State Standards, visit