SBAC, a Test for Administration

Jacob McIntyre, Staff Writer

SBAC testing is ineffective in preparing students for college. SBAC testing is not designed for students; it is for schools to determine where to teach more and for measuring students for schools. Even for schools, the SBAC test is often too secretive to give useful information. According to Coalition to Protect Our Public Schools Out of the 40,000 math questions on the SBAC, zero have been released, and other information is scarse. The SBAC is in a digital format and is dynamic, meaning it changes as you take it. This means it is far more complex to grade and to show how it is being graded. Worst of all, the SBAC test fails almost two thirds of students, meaning that failure rate and score is different for SBAC than all other methods of testing. Most schools and other standardized tests stay below a 50% fail rate. If the rate of failure remains high, it is more likely schools are to invest money and resources into improving those standards, including spending money on the SBAC test. This self-perpetuating cycle will continue to be a drain on schools unless it is actively opposed.

The SBAC test is a massive drain on community and school resources. Washington spends more than $16 million every year on federally required testing for reading and math according to The Seattle Times. That does not include the money spent on writing and science exams, or the cost of computers for the exam. It is not worth more than $16 million a year for a cryptic measurement of student’s college preparedness. Students have better ways to measure college readiness, ranging from GPA to other standardized tests like the SAT. The stress of these types of tests negatively impacts students’ mental health. Not only are the tests themselves stressful, but they expect everyone in high school to be on track for college-level schooling. According to King 5, “At Garfield High School, so many kids opted out that the school had to postpone the test.” This expectation means that upwards of 70 percent of students fail the test, with minimal change year over year. Many schools, including IHS, have made passing the SBAC science test not required to graduate, adding to the confusion surrounding the SBAC test and its purpose.

The goal of the SBAC test to prepare students for college is simply not being met. Students overwhelmingly fail the SBAC test year after year, and schools can do little to improve education with only information about what students are doing poorly. As described by Highline Public School, “The assessments are one tool to help students and parents better understand how students are progressing and help teachers better direct additional help or accelerated learning,” not for directly helping students. Students can also do little to improve their performance based on test results, due to the wide range of ability the scores cover. The SBAC test is purposefully general and vague to guard against cheating, making it difficult to prepare for, and students receive minimal feedback on what they can improve on. Overall, the SBAC test does not help the students who take it.

SBAC testing is ineffective, both for preparing students for college and for helping students improve. If the SBAC continues to be secretive about its testing methods and use different failure rates than other tests, then it will continue to be ineffective for students. The SBAC test is primarily a test designed for school administrations, not for students and communities, yet even for administration the little information they receive is not worth the massive cost.