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Math coach tries to demystify prep testing plans

Sunnyside High School Math Coach James Wise explained to the Sunnyside Noon Rotary Club that education is in transition, and that Sunnyside has been working to stay ahead of the curve.

In a presentation about graduation requirements and the move to the common core curriculum, Wise told club members that a problem in education for a long time has been that a couple of states with the largest student population, California and Texas, have dominated the textbook industry.

With textbooks written to the requirements of those states, other states sometimes had difficulties finding appropriate teaching materials. At a conference of state governors, a decision was made to try to create common standards. This resulted in the common core, which Washington state will be fully adopting starting next year. Wise said 45 states have adopted the common core standards.

The result for Sunnyside students is that they will have a different test to take in the future, called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

The test will be administered in the 11th grade and is meant to be taken on a computer. It’s also an adaptive test, so it will change the questions depending on a student’s answers to more exactly determine how much the student knows.

Wise told the Rotarians that in order to graduate, students have four main requirements. Each student must have a five-year plan, complete 22 credits, pass key assessments and finish a senior project. The problem right now is determining what assessments each class of graduates must pass.

While the SBAC will eventually be one of those tests, right now students are required to pass end of course exams for science and math and high school proficiency exams for reading and writing.

He said that the eventual requirements are still being worked out at the state level, but regardless of the outcome the Sunnyside School District believes its students are being well-served.

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