SBAC: An unbalanced assessment

Shiena Carmen and Leija Farr

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The Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) has become the new graduation requirement starting with the class of 2017. It’s causing more controversy than most teachers thought it would. And proudly going against the test has been the intention of many juniors including those at Cleveland.

Why would they require us (juniors) to take a test that isn’t needed, if you’ve already passed the HSPE? The test is a waste of time because the SBAC schedule is interfering with our classes, causing frenzy for students who opted out of the test.

We’re taking a stance against the test. The HSPE (now defunct) was enough and the SBAC is unnecessary. Reading the news, we learned that 100 percent of juniors skipped out on the test at Nathan Hale High School. Before we made the decision about taking the test, Shiena and I decided to do more research into the topic.

The SBAC is a part of the Common Core curriculum. It’s a computerized test that is supposed to check if a high school student is ready for college. As we perused through this news, we began to gain interest. Further research left us baffled. According to reports in The Seattle Times based on results from pilot tests across 21 states, between 60 and 70 percent of students are expected to fail.

Why would Seattle Public Schools set us up for failure? It’s like they don’t have hope for us, and all of our hard work would be for nothing.    

“I think the SBAC is a more difficult test,” government teacher Evin Shinn admitted. “The Language Arts section could have been prepared better.”

After weighing the negatives and seeing Garfield on the news daily about this topic, we believed it was time for Cleveland to join the movement. Around 101 juniors opted out of the test, out of a class of 220 students – almost half of the junior population. Most students share the same viewpoint as us. We are tired of being treated as “guinea pigs,” taking an eight-hour test so that the district knows how well it works with students.

Normally the SBAC is only a week long, but because of Cleveland’s block schedule, readjustments had to be made. The test was extended to two weeks. This long, drawn out process was another reason it became annoying and interfered with schoolwork.

Of course some will argue that a lack of kids taking the tests would leave our school with less money. “What students don’t understand is if a majority of kids opt out, that means less funding,” said Shinn.

This is true. Unfortunately we cannot argue that. Overall, we as juniors feel that it would be pointless for us to take a test that is settled in the hardest year of high school but has no bearing on our success.

Shiena Carmen and Leija Farr are both juniors who opted out of the SBAC.

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