Las Vegas Sun

August 29, 2014

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Common Core testing is underway in Nevada schools

The state Department of Education says field testing of Common Core standards kicked off Monday in 234 Nevada schools in grades three to 11 in English and mathematics.

An estimated 44,000 students statewide will be taking part in the tougher exams from now to June. The department said more than 600 schools statewide are participating; an estimated 32,000 students would be taking the test at 141 schools in Clark County.

Dale Erquiaga, state superintendent of public instruction, said the transition is to assess how students do in more rigorous standards in the two subjects.

It is a practice run — student results will not be counted and student grades will not be affected. The state has adopted the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.

Erquiaga said the new assessment will be entirely computer based and is aimed at determining how students measure up in critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving instead of just remote learning.

This testing system, based on higher standards, is expected to replace existing state assessments in third to eighth grades in 2014-15.

Smarter Balanced says Nevada is one of 22 states beginning the testing period to find the bugs and determine what works and what needs to be revised.

Erquiaga said, “We expect there will be bumps on the road but running a field test without high stakes is exactly the right thing to do to avoid major problems next year.”

He expects a decline in test scores next year but it should not be viewed as a drop in student learning and educator performance.

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