Math department offers SBAC test tutoring

Photo by Tom Cheah

In an effort to better prepare students for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing, the math department has begun to offer tutoring sessions throughout the month of March.

Since last year, California has adopted a new academic assessment system, known as the California Assessment of Students Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which administers tests that align with the Common Core State Standards. The largest part of the CAASPP is the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which are computer-based tests that are created by SBAC.

Upon hearing feedback from students last year, the math department formed a team consisting of Amanda Blackwood, Abel Bourbois, Kadriye Kanik, Sheree Mar, Nicolas Nguyen, Kevin Nong, and Leah Ulloa to help expose students to SBAC testing material and prepare them for the test. Tutoring sessions began on the first week of March and occur twice week after school; each session is an hour long.

“The main goal is to get students more exposed to the new testing environment and types of testing material,” Nguyen, who chairs the math department, said. “The second goal is to emphasize certain types of questions that aren’t traditional math test questions, such as the ‘select all that apply’ and ‘justify your answer’ questions.”

Nguyen stated that “students often struggle with the navigation of the software itself” and with the vocabulary of test questions.

“Unfamiliarity with the testing environment could distract [students] from the content itself,” Nguyen said. “We want to let our students see what they’re walking into and know what to expect, so it’s a fair game for them. We feel that it’s only fair for them to know what they’re going to get tested on.”

The tutoring sessions are not mandatory, but “a lot of students still come.” For next year, Nguyen hopes to make the sessions more accommodating to students’ schedules so that more students can attend.

For Mar, a typical tutoring session consists of students working on sample test problems on packets or computers. After students attempt the problems, she goes over the answers with the entire class.

“I think students are getting better because they are understanding the different types of problems,” Mar said.

Mar stated that students from other sessions have been struggling with trigonometry and geometry and that she will be changing her lesson plans to meet the students’ needs.

“When we get there, I will probably go over general trigonometry lessons and a few main geometric concepts,” Mar said.

Junior Valerie Montelon attends Bourbois’s tutoring sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and said that “the tutoring has been helpful.”

“It’s really helpful to review and see how the computer reacts to the answer,” Montelon said. “I’m feeling a little bit more confident because now I know how [the test] looks like and what to expect. I’m glad they are offering the review.”

SBAC tutoring will continue to March 24, and juniors will be taking the SBAC test in April.

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