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NHS SBAC scores drop

Test results on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Test (SBAC) released at the end of September indicate a significant drop in overall district-wide scores and scores among Northwood students in comparison to 2017.

The SBAC test is a standardized test aligned to the Common Core States Standard. Taken in the spring by juniors, the test scores are used to provide information about a student’s English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics skills.

“The drop in scores was surprising to me,” Principal Leslie Roach said. “We had done super well in the previous years so you would probably expect a natural drop, but I was surprised that while district scores went down, we still fell below other schools. I don’t think it’s reflective of our curriculum or teaching.”

Between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of Northwood juniors meeting or exceeding the ELA standards fell 13.3 percent, while the percentage meeting or exceeding the mathematics standards fell 8.28 percent. District-wide, the percentage of IUSD juniors meeting or exceeding the ELA standards fell 7.16 percent, while the percentage meeting or exceeding the mathematics standards fell 2.57 percent.

“The scores are one of the biggest indicators for the state to define how good of a school we are,” Vice Principal Jennifer Ollila said. “If we have higher scores, colleges will recognize that our school is higher achieving. This reflects back down to students when they apply to colleges and how colleges view our transcripts.”

Although these scores have no direct impact on students’ grades, the recent drop in SBAC scores might be attributed to an increasing number of students opting out of the test. While this may not be the true cause to the drop in SBAC scores, next year’s scores could possibly reveal a growing trend.

“We had more people opt out last year, but didn’t have that many,” Roach said. “The drop could be the result of the mass change in curriculum or the level of class. I’m not too sure if it was just students not taking it seriously or it was how the test was divided up or maybe the extra science section. Maybe it was the timing in relation to AP testing. It’s hard to know for sure.”

The SBAC used to have no connection to students’ futures, but in the recent years, it has become a factor in deciding matriculation at community colleges and California State Universities. As a result, the school has already made significant changes to the course curriculums.

“I really think our curriculum is aligned to the Common Core standards,” Roach said. “Our teachers have really been focusing on reading, writing and making arguments. So to see that drop is surprising and I don’t think it shows the level of rigor our students are capable of.”