Revisiting the Smarter Balanced Placement Agreement: Your Feedback Wanted!

The 2017 Legislature passed a law making significant changes to the K-12 assessment requirement, including shifting the timing of the high school assessment from the 11th grade to the 10th.  This was already the case in practice for English but NOT for math.

This shift means we need to revisit our placement agreements, so a work group met in December to recommend changes in the language in order to maintain the agreement.

We are seeking feedback on the recommendations before we take them to our system leadership for final approval.

  • Proposed Changes to Math:
  • Proposed Changes to English:

Each document includes

  1. Recommendations
  2. Background to the new law
  3. Link to a Google form for providing feedback

The deadline for input is February 28th, 2018.

Want More Information?

The Original System Work:

If you’re interested in more details about the assessment itself (what the levels mean; definitions of scale scores and threshold achievement descriptors, etc.), see this page on the Smarter Balanced web site.

Feel free to share as widely as you’d like with colleagues who would like to provide some feedback.

Questions? Contact Bill Moore at

Announcing Our New OER Website: Open Washington

cropped-sbctc-image.jpgOLYMPIA, Wash. – The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) today launched OPEN Washington, a website that connects faculty to the nation’s finest open resources to save students money.

With OPEN Washington, SBCTC assembles links to top quality open educational resource collections and adds step-by-step training and other tools to help instructors identify, adopt and modify relevant materials. The goal is to make the best materials available to all students at a cost much lower than that of published textbooks.

The Open Educational Resources (OER) available through OPEN Washington are released under licenses managed by the nonprofit Creative Commons, allowing users to reuse, alter and repurpose the content with attribution.

OPEN Washington extends Washington state’s groundbreaking work in open education in a significant new direction. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Washington state Legislature, SBCTC and community college faculty built the Open Course Library, a collection of open course materials for 81 of the community and technical college system’s highest-enrolled courses. SBCTC has also implemented an ‘open’ policy that ensures products of public and grant-funded educational projects at community and technical colleges are openly licensed and freely available.

In addition to assembling a high-quality collection of resources, OPEN Washington provides training materials and resources, stories of the impact of successful OER use in the Washington community and technical college system, and a community-driven Q&A forum to help instructors learn open licensing and how to use, license and modify OER in their own teaching. SBCTC’s  “How to Use OER” training course is nationally recognized for its success in teaching instructors and librarians how to use OER the right way. A self-paced version of that course is available on OPEN Washington.

“The value of the new site is that it provides a one-stop center for instructors and anyone else to find open resources and use them effectively,” said Mark Jenkins, SBCTC director for eLearning and open education. “OPEN Washington gives us the means to represent the best of what’s out there in OER and to provide help and resources for both new and experienced instructors committed to teaching with it.”

SBCTC is one of five organizations nationwide to provide training and support to all U.S. Department of Labor TAACCCT grantees (Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training) through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Products resulting from the DOL grants must be openly licensed. The other partners in this grant are Creative Commons, Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST).

Seattle Times Article About SBCTC Year 12 Math Course

Photo by Eric Jacobs for The Seattle Times

Photo by Eric Jacobs for The Seattle Times

The Education Lab Blog, a “yearlong project to spark meaningful conversation about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest,” just published an article about an exciting project we are working on here at SBCTC.

Read “New Course Can Help Vault Students into College-Level Math” to find out more about the college readiness math course we are creating to help foster meaningful alignment between high school and community college curriculum.

The goals of developing and making this “Year 12” course available statewide are to

  • Provide more high school students with a clear opportunity to avoid remediation and placement testing when they enter college
  • Improve curricular alignment between K-12 and entry-level college courses
  • Increase the understanding of key elements of Common Core State Standards for high school teachers and college faculty
  • Develop and/or sustain local college/school district partnerships with a particular emphasis on faculty/teacher collaboration

We are also working on a senior year college readiness English course.

Questions?  Please contact Bill Moore at

Recommend Achievement Levels for SB Interim and Summative Assessments

Smarter Balanced LogoThe Smarter Balanced Assessment (SB) Consortium seeks Washington State

  • K–12 teachers and higher education faculty,
  • K-12 and higher education administrators,
  • parents,
  • business/community leaders

to participate in an online panel to establish consistent measures of progress for the SB interim and summative assessments.

Recommend a rigorous, fair, and accurate college readiness achievement level on the 11th grade assessment based on your professional judgment and your experience.

Click Here to Register for the Online Panel

On the registration site, you will

  1. choose the grade and content area (English language arts/literacy or mathematics) and grade in which you want to participate;
  2. provide an email address, role, and demographic information;
  3. verify your email;
  4. select a 2-day window (between October 6 and 17, 2014) for participation.

SB estimates that each session will take up to 3 hours.

Registrations must be submitted online by September 19, 2014!

Bill Moore SBCTCQuestions?  Please contact Bill Moore, Director of Core to College Alignment at the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC): 360.704.4346 or e-mail at

Please forward this e-mail to any colleagues who you think might be interested in this work; it is important to have as many participants as possible, from as many backgrounds as possible, provide these recommendations.

Give Your Feedback on the DRAFT Recommendations for Smarter Balanced 11th Grade Assessment

Please read and provide feedback (see below for two ways to do so) on the DRAFT recommendations for use of the Smarter Balanced 11th Grade Assessment.

A cross-sector work group representing a variety of key education stakeholder groups convened in early November to draft system recommendations regarding the use of the Smarter Balanced 11th grade assessment as an indicator of college readiness in the placement process for post-secondary institutions in Washington.  Although the Smarter Balanced 11th grade assessment is NOT a placement test, these recommendations are intended to be incorporated into the ongoing system-wide efforts to provide students with multiple/alternative measures for placement.

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A New Edition of Legislative News!

A new edition of Legislative News has been posted…

This week legislators marked the session halfway point with plenty of action on bills impacting community and technical colleges. In addition, CTCs presented before legislative committees on a variety of issues and continued to be part of discussions with lawmakers in Olympia.

Read the full blog post.

Pew Research Center: Economic Disparities and the Increased Value of Post-secondary Education

A new report from the Pew Research Center summarizes public views and student attitudes on the value of a college degree and examines both the individual and societal benefits of postsecondary education. Based on Pew surveys and analysis of U.S. Census data, “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College” argues that college graduates outperform their peers with less education in nearly every measure of career attainment and economic well-being. However, the report also finds that just going to college isn`t always enough – a student`s chosen field of study plays a major role in future earnings and job satisfaction. Additionally, while the value of a postsecondary degree is at a record high, the value of a high school diploma has declined to such an extent that earnings for students born after 1980 have remained surprisingly stagnant.

View the report.

Common Core: Gerald Graff Versus Diane Ravitch?

Many of you are probably familiar with (and perhaps have partaken in) the heated conversations occurring on the state and national level about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Particularly resonant to my own situation is that the “Common Core Yields Odd Political Allegiances“: the article title I invoked in the previous clause begins with this line– “To say that new academic standards have yielded strange bedfellows would be an understatement.”

However, I am concerned that, as usual, the national discourse about CCSS reduces the complexity of these tensions to the equivalent of twin (albeit opposing) Facebook status updates– one to which we respond “like” or “dislike” without much further research or thought.

At the risk of reducing a complex issue to a simplistic “Good Thing/Bad Thing” binary (If you watch the clip, I love it when Jon Stewart says, “Good thing or bad thing?  Let’s go to our analyst, Flippy the Coin!” and I am always horrified anew when the reporter cuts off a sophisticated financial analysis with an unbelievably snide “Can you just say if that’s a good thing or a bad thing?”), I think it’s worth noting that two remarkably fine minds and scholars have both produced coherent arguments regarding their opposing stances on the Common Core– Diane Ravitch and Gerald Graff.

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