California public schools to test students via computers


Next Tuesday, most California public school students will take an assessment test they have never taken before. This one will replace the old STAR test. It will now be called the Smarter Balanced Field Test. 

Imagine a world where students take a paperless test to measure their achievement. In California, that test will be launched in a few days.

Students at James Lick Middle School in San Francisco have been doing practice runs ahead of the test called the Smarter Balanced Field Test.

On the new test some of the questions are like the old STAR test with multiple choices. Others will ask you to drag and drop the answer in the correct box, draw your answer, write the answer or fill in the blank.

"It's now a two-part. What's the best answer to this one and now say why," John Burke, the Assessment Office supervisor.

Only this year, students will not receive an individual score. That also means for the first time in years, the state will not hold schools accountable for how well a student performs, like it did with the No Child Left Behind Act. However, it starts counting next year.

This allows school districts to make sure their network is fast enough and able to handle all the students at their schools. Think of it as a fire drill. Also, the results of the test will be used to see if the questions are good enough to be used on the test next year.

"The students, through their interaction with the computer, will be saying whether they are able to navigate an item and whether they are able to answer correctly or not," said Burke.

Some students say they're excited to learn a lot more about computers and how to use them. Another student we spoke to said it felt the same as taking the test on paper.

Parents may want to know more about the test. You can get more information on the California Department of Education website

The new test will be given to students in grades 3 through 8 and in high school only to 11th graders.