Let's Talk Assessments


Beginning in the spring of 2015, Vermont will transition to the Smarter Balanced Assessment System, a new computer-delivered testing program developed by Vermont and its partner states in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). 

SBAC will be fully aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), use state of the art computer adaptive testing and accessibility technologies, and will provide a continuum of summative, interim and formative tools that can be used for a variety of educational purposes. For more detailed information, visit the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium website.

This spring (2014), 27 Vermont elementary, middle, and high schools participate in the Field Test. Last spring (2013), 93 schools participated in the Pilot Test. The purpose of field testing is to ensure that assessment items and tasks meet high standards of technical and educational quality. It also provides students and teachers with a valuable preview of the new computer-based assessments, and will give the schools and the state an opportunity to prepare for the technological and logistical requirements of the new system.



I like that we were previously taught a lesson about the test (the classroom activity), because it helped me answer the questions

Grace, 5th grade student at Bakersfield Elementary Middle School.

I think that some parts of the test were comforting. For example, I liked that we were able to take breaks.


When you finish a section, go back and check your answers

Dylan, 5th grade student at Bakersfield Elementary Middle School.

Take your time, and don’t rush! Also, take one or two breaks to get up and stretch.


Don’t be worried that you won’t finish in time, because you can have as long as you need

Emma, 5th grade student at Bakersfield Elementary Middle School.

Taking the test was difficult, but some parts made it easier. For example, with the split screen feature, you could always see the evidence you needed for the ELA test.

Callie Lumbra

You’ll learn a lot about how students grapple with these types of questions, how they’re likely to answer, and where you can take your instruction in the future

Callie Lumbra, 5th Grade teacher at Bakersfield Elementary School

To help students adapt to the types of questions they’ll see on the test, teachers can find, use, and weave in SBAC sample items into literacy instruction and math assessments!

Karen Heath

Kids are used to doing a whole lot of their communication on-line, so an on-line test is simply the right way to go

Karen Heath, Grade 3-8 Literacy Coordinator for Barre Schools & 2005 VT Teacher of the Year

Why do we need a new test? Well, we have new standards and it is the 21st century, and kids are used to doing a whole lot of their communication on-line

Frank Gerdeman

It allows the assessment to focus on creating a much more precise “snapshot” of a student’s skills

Frank Gerdeman, Assistant Director of the Integrated Support for Learning – Secondary & Adult Division at the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE)

There is a tremendous amount of discussion about and around this new system and how adults will use the results for everything from teacher evaluation to school funding.

Michael Hock

It’s time to re-think reading for next generation educational assessments

Michael Hock , Director of Educational Assessment at the Agency of Education.

The compelling message that came from expert testimony was that the personal computer, with its array of embedded accessibility tools, means that students with reading disabilities can still be Career and College Ready.

Elizabeth Hulbert

As the person who has been responsible for organizing and managing the NECAP testing, the SBAC assessment was a gift.

Elizabeth Hulbert is the mathematics coordinator for Barre Supervisory Union.

The computerized format of the test made it a significantly easier assessment to facilitate and it took far less time to organize.

Adrienne Capone

In order to administer the test, I suggest creating a manual for your test administrators.

Adrienne Capone is the Director of Curriculum and Assistant Principal at Mt. Mansfield Union High School.

Schedule a training time for test administrators to practice, and to the best of your ability, limit the number of test administrators so a few teachers become facile with the format.

Peter Drescher

I thought I might talk briefly here about some of the things we saw as schools moved through the 2014 SBAC Field Test process

Peter Drescher is the Education Technology Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education.

All of the people involved jumped in, rolled up their sleeves, took on some steep learning, and delivered an environment that allowed all of us, including the students, to see what online assessment is going to entail.

Lindy Johnson

Overall, the technology issues were minor and participating in the Field Test has better prepared us for the real thing in 2015.

Lindy Johnson is the Elementary Literacy Coordinator at the Barre Supervisory Union.

Something that was interesting was that students initially didn’t utilize paper and pencil to work out their math problems even though the problems were not designed to be solved in your head.

MaryAnn Mindardo

Beginning in July 2014, state department educators of the SBAC member states will be able to preview the Digital Library, and provide feedback throughout the summer.

Mary Ann Minardo is the Assessment Consultant at the Agency of Education.

We are very proud that Vermont has had 24 elementary, middle and high school teachers create resources, aligned to the Common Core, which will support K–12 educators...

Peter Shumlin

Schools need good test data so they can assess whether their efforts to be more effective are paying off

Peter Shumlin is the 81st Governor of Vermont

As a state, let’s focus on using all the tools we have to help all children learn better, but let’s not get sidetracked with labeling and ranking.


Michael Hock, Director of Educational Assessment, at michael.hock@vermont.gov or (802) 479-1288

Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014