Leveling the Playing Field on the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) It is all about accessibility.

By Executive Director of Special Education, Dr. Tamara Jackson

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Each spring our students with special needs participate in the SBAC with their non-special needs peers. The Smarter Balanced tests are designed so that all students—including students who have special needs and/or limited English proficiency can participate in the tests and demonstrate what they know and are able to do.

The SBAC offers universal tools, designated supports and accommodations (embedded and non-embedded).  

Universal tools are available to all students on the basis of student preference and selection. 

Designated supports are available to all students when determined for use by an educator or team of educators or specified in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. 

Accommodations are permitted for all eligible students if specified in the student’s IEP or Section 504 Plan. 

Preparation for the SBAC test administration begins with the yearly Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting.  The IEP team members (parents, general education and special education teachers, administrators and service providers) first review the present levels of performance and individual student goals and then focus on the Accommodations page.  This page contains all the accommodations or modifications which may be used daily by the student in the classroom.  On this same page there is a section called “Variations/Accommodations/Modifications, Related to Assessment Situations.” This page is important because according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), accommodations or modifications can only be given on an assessment if they are used routinely in the classroom. The next step is to complete the Statewide Assessments page of the IEP.  This is where the specific supports and accommodations are entered into the IEP, which are then pulled into the SBAC testing information system.  Students are then able to use the accommodations and supports on the SBAC which they are accustomed to using in their classroom(s).

By design, these accommodations and supports allow all students to demonstrate their full abilities on the SBAC test, providing an equal and level playing field.