SBAC on Steroids?

California is an SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) state. This last week my school started the SBAC Field Tests and I was a Test Administrator for my 7th grade classes. Before I continue, let me post part of the Security Affidavit I had to sign.

That's right, I will not divulge the contents of the field test. However, I will first refer you to last year's post where I made a video comparing released CST questions and SBAC practice questions.  Here's a reminder (screen shot), comparing just two questions. 

This week, I felt like my students were looking at SBAC practice questions that were on steroids. Since I can't speak about the SBAC Field Test questions, I took my Deodorant 3 Act task and put what I think the SBAC steroid version might look like. I have nothing against SBAC. I tried to create a similar task that had rigor, complexity, and mathematical modeling.

First, my Deodorant task goes like this:
Act 1: How long will it take to use all of that deodorant?

Act 2: Data from the first 4 sticks. 

Act 3: The answer is still in the works. 

Sequel: How many sticks of deodorant would a person use in one lifetime?

Here's how I'd see this same task presented SBAC-on-steroids-style. 

I walked away this week, thinking our students need to do many things.
  1. Read the story. 
  2. Decode the text.
  3. Understand the question.
  4. Organize the data.
  5. Retrieve and access the correct skill(s) or skill set.
  6. Apply the necessary skills.
  7. Perform the correct operations with the above skills.
  8. Interpret their answer.
  9. Explain (and articulate) their answer.
As a teacher of many ELD students, I can safely say that the following steps are already challenging; 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9. Don't get me wrong. I believe in literacy, but I wouldn't want language to be a barrier when assessing a student's mathematical abilities.

Hear this though: Students must make sense of the problem before they can use mathematical modeling to predict the answer. Then, they must articulate how they got their answer. I would consider this expectation the new norm.

I'm not done. I could totally see SBAC taking this deodorant task and creating an additional question that would complete my 3 Act. Check out this doozy.

We're looking for students to drag numbers to both axes, use a line of best fit, make a mathematical prediction, and explain everything again. The only thing I left out of this question was for students to write an equation for the line they draw. 

I have more to say about this, but that's enough for now. I'm already thinking about how to better prepare my students for these types of questions, which should be my next post. If you have any thoughts, please share. If you've made it this far, here's a preview of Act 3 for my deodorant task. Don't worry, I keep my shirt on!