SBAC Purpose a Mystery

Those who took it were unsure if it counted toward anything. Without more explanation about its purpose, teachers and students are still in the dark.


In the spring of 2015, juniors took the Smarter Balanced Test (SBAC) in math and English, resulting in a high percentage of students meeting the standards for both subjects.

The test turned out differently than expected. The overall process took longer than anticipated and the scores came in the mail only two weeks ago, though administrators had access to the test data since nearly the beginning of the school year.

Last spring was the first time that the test was recorded and students did not know what to expect or if it counted toward anything at all.

“I thought it was pointless and I don’t think it was helpful for college but if there was an incentive for the test I would have definitely tried,” said Garrett Cook (12).

Many juniors at SJHHS were not fond of the two weeks of testing, and were given hardly any preparation as it occurred directly after AP testing.

“I didn’t try on the test because my teacher told me it wouldn’t effect my grade and it was a waste of time and the worst two weeks,” said Ashley Collins (12).

This exam was formatted differently than traditional tests, many questions were in the free response question format and there were few multiple choice or fill in the blanks.

“My initial reaction was horrified because we were tested on things that no one is ever going to need,” said Jacob Perry (12).

Many students feel that common core is a great concept and are glad to be moving towards a more interactive learning style.

“Forcing us to take this test right after the weeks of AP testing was very overwhelming and I felt like it was unnecessary,” said Jacqueline Tran (12). 

The test is a result of common core standards and it might replace the discontinued CAHSEE exam sophomores usually take, according to principal Smalley.

The SBAC scores might also be used to exempt students from taking certain college level entry exams, another reason to take the exam more seriously if you’re a junior this year.

The test and the results of it are important for schools and policy makers, but confusion exists among students and parents as to its value.

Some students we interviewed said they might try harder if there were an incentive of some kind.

But that doesn’t seem likely. SJHHS Principal, Jeniffer Smalley confirmed, “there will not be grade bumps for SBAC scores.”

Although a majority of students felt negatively about the test, SJHHS did well with  77% of students meeting or exceeding the standards in English and 42% meetin or exceeding standards in Math.

The  group tested had only had one year of experience with “common core math.”

Smalley said she is working with the principals of other schools and the district to confirm more information about the SBAC tests.