Suggestions and Considerations for Administering 2014 sbac field Testing for Students With a Visual Impairment

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Suggestions and Considerations for Administering

2014 SBAC Field Testing for Students With a Visual Impairment

Julie Z. Manning, Ph.D., with Adrian Amandi, TVI, & Jerry Kuns, M.S., TVI

Recommendation #1 – Know the facts:

Keep this background information close by to use as a reference.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

The CCSS define the knowledge and skills students should acquire during their education in K–12 in order to graduate from high school with the ability to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and/or in workforce training programs.

Smarter Balanced Consortium (SBAC or Smarter Balanced)

SBAC is a multistate consortium developing assessments (Next-generation assessments), aligned with the CCSS, that accurately measure students’ progress toward college and career readiness. SBAC involves educators, researchers, policymakers, and community groups. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is another consortium.

Assembly Bill (AB) 484 Enacted January 1, 2014

This bill calls for the transition to a new system of assessments that reflect the CCSS. This transition will take years to complete. All California local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to participate in the spring 2014 field test. The test will be operational and students test scores counted for the 2015 administration.

California Assessment of Student Performance (CAASPP)

CAASPP is the new statewide assessment replacing the STAR (Standardize Testing and Reporting) Program. (Note: this assessment program was briefly entitled CALMAPP)

2014 Assessments

SBAC Computer-based Field Testing

Grades 3-8 & 11

Exemptions: student taking CAPA and, only for the ELA field test, ELLs who have attend school in the US for less than 12 months.

SBAC Computer based testing, selected scientific sample - Grades 9 & 10

STAR (CST and CMA) Science Only - Grades 5, 7, 10

CAPA - Grade 2-11 (ELA, Math, Science)

CAHSEE - to continue

2014 Field Test Details

Field testing in California began March 18th and extends through June 6th. Each school has a 6 week window.
This Field Test is a “trial run” of the assessment. It is a “test of the test.”
*** The test results will NOT be factored into school or district accountability nor will students receive their test scores***

Field Test Components

Non-Performance Task (non-PT) Items – Similar to the STAR program with selected response items, (i.e. multiple choice, true/false)
Performance Task (PT) Items - A constructed-response task that challenges students to answer a set of questions centered around a common theme or problem. Performance-based tasks will be delivered by computer, and include a classroom activity.

What’s In and What’s Out

Field Test 2014

Computer-Based Testing (CBT)

Tests are administered and response recorded via computer. Similar to a paper-and-pencil test, but implemented on the computer, instead.

No Paper-and-Pencil Option

This administration is a “test of the test” so it is important that conditions closely resemble those that will be implemented in the future.

Operational Test 2015

Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT)

CAT adjusts to a student’s ability by basing the difficulty of future questions on previous answers, providing more accurate measurement of student achievement.

Paper-and-Pencil Option

Paper-and-Pencil tests will be an option (2015-2018) allowing LEAs additional time to build their technology infrastructure.

Recommendation #2 – Accommodations:

Forget the terminology you learned:

From here on, accommodations will be discussed by the following: Categories of Support and Method of Delivery

Categories of Support

Universal Tools

What is it? Support options offered within Best Practices

Who decides? Accessibility features are available to all students based on student preference and selection.

Designated Supports

What is it? Support options (i.e. accommodations) that do not require an IEP

Who decides? Features are available for use by any pupil for whom the need has been indicated prior to the assessment, by an educator or group of educators.


What is it? Broadest support options (i.e. accommodations) based on student need and written into an IEP or 504 plan.

Who decides? IEP or 504 team


No longer a support option for state testing

There is no assessment designed to replace the CMA for ELA or Math.

This should be the last year for participation in modified Science tests.

Method of delivery

Embedded (digitally-delivered)

Non-embedded (support from outside the test platform)

Method of delivery options are available for each of the above Categories of Support.
Recommendation #3 – Familiarize yourself with some of the accessibility features

If you go to you’ll see a link to the Accommodations guidelines and frequently asked questions. It is your best bet for answering usability and accessibility questions. I discuss a few below:

Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Read Aloud (RA)

Students who are struggling readers may need assistance accessing the assessment by having all or portions of the assessment read aloud. This support also may be needed by students with reading-related disabilities, or by students who are blind and do not yet have adequate braille skills.
When a student cannot access text-to-speech, an embedded resource available on the Smarter Balanced assessment, the student may be eligible to work with a test reader for Read Aloud, (non-embedded) support. (Reader must be trained and follow the administration guidelines provided in the Smarter Balanced Test Administration Manual.
Accommodations for ELA

For students in grades 3 - 5, TTS and Read Aloud will NOT be an available accommodation.

For students in grades 6 – 8 & 11, TTS & Read Aloud are available as an accommodation.
Note: the manual says TTS and Read Aloud are “For ELA reading passages, grades 6-8 & 11; blind students in grades 3-8 & 11 who do not yet have adequate braille skills.”
Designated Support and Accommodations for Math

Students in all grade levels, with proper documentation, may use TTS and/or Read Aloud support as need.

Additional Accommodation Information



Recommended Use

Print-on-Demand (POD)
(Non-Embedded Accommodation)

Print on demand Paper copies of either passages/stimuli and/or items are printed for students.
*permission for the students to request printing must first be set in TIDE.

Some students with disabilities may need paper copies of either passages/stimuli and/or items.


A raised-dot code that individuals read with the fingertips. Graphic material (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, diagrams, and illustrations) is presented in a raised format (paper or thermoform).
Contracted and non-contracted braille is available;
Nemeth code is available for math.

Students with visual impairments may read text via braille.
Tactile overlays and graphics also may be used to assist the student in accessing content through touch.
Refreshable braille is available only for ELA because Nemeth Code is not available via refreshable braille.
For math, braille will be presented via embosser; embosser-created braille can be used for ELA also.
The type of braille presented to the student (contracted or non-contracted) is set in TIDE.

(Different from Zoom)

The size of specific areas of the screen (e.g., text, formulas, tables, graphics, and navigation buttons) may be adjusted by the student with an assistive technology device.

Magnification allows increasing the size to a level not provided for by the Zoom universal tool

Students used to viewing enlarged text or graphics, or navigation buttons may need magnification to comfortably view content.

This support also may meet the needs of students with visual impairments and other print disabilities. The use of this designated support may result in the student needing additional overall time to complete the assessment.

Permissive Mode

Streamlined Interface

The following has been cut and pasted from the Smarter Balanced Website:

36. What options do districts have for administering Smarter Balanced assessments to students who are blind?
Students who are blind and who prefer to use braille should have access to either refreshable braille (only for ELA) or embosser-created braille (for ELA or math).
For those students who are blind and prefer to use text-to-speech, access to text-to-speech should be provided for the math test, and for ELA items only (text-to-speech is not permitted on ELA reading passages without a specific documented need in the student’s IEP or 504 plan). Text-to-speech use for ELA reading passages is only permitted for those students in grades 6-8 and 11.
Students should participate in the decision about the accommodation they prefer to use, and should be allowed to change during the assessment if they ask to do so. Students can have access to both Braille and text-to-speech that is embedded in the Smarter Balanced assessment system.
38. Can students without documented disabilities who have had a sudden injury use any of the Smarter Balanced accommodations?
Students without documented disabilities who have experienced a physical injury that impairs their ability to use a computer may use some accommodations, provided they have had sufficient experience with them.
Both speech-to-text and scribe are accommodations that are available to students who have experienced a physical injury such as a broken hand or arm, or students who have become blind through an injury and have not had sufficient time to learn braille.
Prior to testing a student with a sudden physical injury, regardless of whether a 504 plan is started, Test Administrators should contact their district test coordinator or other authorized individuals to ensure the test registration system accurately describes the student’s status and any accommodations that the student requires.

Recommendation #4: Do the best with the technology you have

SBAC has specified the need for particular equipment. Some of the technology requirements are already outdated. I used a question and answer format here…

Making sense of it?

In 2012, Oregon began implementing a very similar assessment. It was designed by some of the same groups that are working on this assessment. The test was adapted for use with visually impaired students. According to school districts, it has been a successful program.

From what I can tell, the instructions were cut from that instruction manual (dated 2012) and pasted into the SBAC practice test manual. The manual has not been updated, and there is no way for us to know how the system will handle the upgrades.
Can we use other software?

You can try. A screen magnifier is an important addition for many of our students. We were able to use Zoomtext. Be sure the Permissive Mode (an embedded Accommodation) is turned on.

Need a reason NOT to stress about this?

  1. It is only a Field Test. The most important thing you can do is give good, clear, accurate feedback to the test developers.

  2. If your school cannot support the technology needs at this time, remember that there is a 3 year paper-and-pencil option available after this year.

How are assistive technology (AT) devices certified for use for the Smarter Balanced assessments?

(This comes directly from the website)

AIR’s certification site for AT and other devices is available to the public at Manufacturers of various devices can submit their products for certification. For a small fee**, manufacturers can work with AIR to makes sure a particular device works as intended with the test. If the device works, AIR will certify the product and add it to a list of devices that the general public can access. Although it is not intended for teachers and schools to submit devices for certification, anyone from the general public can go to the site to see which products have been certified.

What constitutes a small fee?



Product Model* Start-Up Fee


Annual Device Fee**


Mid-Year Upgrade (if applicable)

$25,000 It’s public knowledge – thought you’d like to know.

Recommendation #5: Just get through it!

The most important thing you can do on this field test is get yourself, and your students, ready for testing in the future. Remember that scores are NOT counted for accountability and no one will ever know how your student scored.

Preparing for the future

One of the best ways to prepare your students is to work with them on the keyboard commands. Could you print out a copy of these in an accessible media for your student to use during the test? I truly do not know, but sometimes it is better not to ask. Again, this is only a field test.

Keyboard commands for students:

Response Items

The Smarter Balanced assessment system uses a variety of items and tasks. Two examples that will be on this practice test are below. There will be more information to come on this section.

Constructed-Response Items

Test items that require students to write a response to a prompt. Constructed-response items range from supplying a missing word in a sentence to writing an extensive essay. Students are directed to demonstrate what they know in their own words.

Selected-Response Items

Test items that require students to select an answer to an item prompt. They are designed to be answered within 1 or 2 minutes and allow the opportunity to assess a broad range of content in one test. Selected response items are objectively scored and student results are collected quickly.
Selected-response items include multiple-choice, matching, fill-in tables, drag and drop, graphing, short text, long essay.

Every aspect of this assessment is new - including a series of steps that must be done before a single item can be ordered. Even if you have never needed this information in the past, you’ll better off if you understand it now. Bear with me for a few more minutes and read on.


There are 4 people who are an integral part of this field test. Consider printing their Names, Phone Numbers, Email, and school site where they can be reached on the assessment days.
District Test Coordinator (DC)

School Test Coordinator (SC)

On Site Technology Staff

Test Administrator (TA)


When problems arise, it is likely based on one of the three reasons:

1 - data entry error

2 - tech set up

3 - not accessible: not usable

Data entry Error

Data entry is done well before the day of testing. It is important that you know the following:
LEA inputs data for CALPADS including SSID, ELL, language, grade, disability and other demographic information.
District Coordinator inputs data, specifically Test Settings, for TIDE (ordering system).
CALPADS information and TIDE information must be identical to one another

Technology Set Up

Some of the technology and equipment require changes to test setting before testing can begin. The fix may not be difficult but the technology specialist may not know where to find the information. (There is an inordinate amount of ever changing information)

Inaccessible: not usable

Data Entry Error Fix

Know who can help you. If it appears that wrong information is holding you up call the right people. You can call your supervisor or a principal, but in the end you will likely end up talking to one of four people listed above. When possible, try and call them directly rather than having an intermediary.
*Only the LEA can make changes to the information in CALPADS.
*District Test Coordinator - can edit Test Settings

*School Test Coordinator - can edit Test Settings

*Test Administrator(s) - can ONLY look at settings they cannot change it.

*Technology Support - can ONLY look at settings they cannot change it.

Technology Error Fix

Carry the right information with you and share it with the technology staff. This information is available on the SBAC website, but I will give more specific information soon.

Inaccessible: Unusable Fix

Truly, the most important thing we can do is give good, clear, organized feedback and prepare ourselves and our students for next year and beyond. Once you are properly logged on to the system and it is doing what it is supposed to do, all you can do is document.
Please consider using the matrices provided.


Questions about AB 484, and the Field Test, should be directed to the CDE CAASPP Office by phone at 916-445-8765 or by e-mail at
For those students needing a paper copy of one or more items, the Smarter Balanced Help Desk (1-855-833- 1969) must be contacted by the school or district coordinator to have the accommodation set for the student.
If you check out the CDE and SBAC websites you will see a lot of great information. You will also find lots of phone numbers and email addresses for people working on this assessment. It can’t hurt to call or send an email. Parents and student can do this as well.
AB 484 Law:

FAQs on the Smarter Balanced Guidelines. for more
Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations


You may be able to assist technology staff with

For more information, download a CAT factsheet and webinar.
Immediate Qs for SBAC
California Technical Assistance Center (CalTac)

For those students needing a paper copy of one or more items, the Smarter Balanced Help Desk (1-855-833-1969) must be contacted by the school or district coordinator to have the accommodation set for the student.

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