Typhani Harris | June 2014

The Gist of the SBAC Performance Task

The paradigm shift is underway and there is so much to think about and to plan for. Now that Common Core is a household word, what does that mean for the upcoming assessments? To date, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core State Standards. Each state has a couple options for assessing the common core standards, so I began researching who is doing what. Per Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), 23 states have adopted their assessment and 15 states have adopted the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).

If you do the math, that leaves 7 states unaccounted for. So, I went a little deeper in my research to find that a state can opt to adopt both the SBAC and the PARCC, the ASCD website offers a very nice visual on this dichotomy. According to ASCD, 20 states are pro SBAC, 15 states are pro PARCC, and 11 states have chosen both. I also found that 11 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS), but it looks like a couple years before those will be fully implemented.

Scott (2012) discussed that some states have chosen to adopt both SBAC and PARCC in hopes to learn the most of what each consortia can offer and then choose the right fit. This made me wonder why all states didn’t choose this option? Regardless, SBAC seems to be in the proverbial lead, and the one chosen by my state (CA) so I have chosen to reveal the gist of the SBAC performance Task.

Aside from the fact that the assessments will now be digitally administered with a higher level of critical thinking. One very new assessment experience will be the performance task. The performance task is quite possibly my favorite section, as it allows the arts to really take part in preparing students for the assessment. According to SBAC, the “performance tasks measure a student’s ability to integrate knowledge and skills across multiple standards-a key component of college and career readiness.

Performance tasks will be used to measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected or constructed response items”. So, our students will be writing, as an English teacher this warms my heart. However, who is going to actually grade all of this writing? Unfortunately, I could not find that answer. Despite this, the performance task is coming, so I thought I would share the claims and expectations of the SBAC performance task.

SBAC Performance Task Claims

The four claims of the SBAC performance task are: read, write, language, and research.

Read: “students can read closely and analytically to comprehend a range of increasingly complex literary and informational texts”
Write: “students can produce effective and well-grounded writing for a range of purposes and audiences”
Language: “students can employ effective speaking and listening skills for a range of purposes and audiences”
Research: “students can engage in research/inquiry to investigate topics, and to analyze, integrate, and present information”

Fun Fact

What I have found most unique about the performance tasks is that they are a 3-part process. Part 1 is an in-class discussion of the topic at hand, and students take notes on the discussion to refer to during the actual task. Part 2 sets students up with a purpose and audience for their task, but then Part 3 changes the purpose and audience to a new expectation and the final assignment they will complete. This process is very unique to SBAC and truly a commemoration of real-life experiences!

Like we share in our assessment for makers online class, the SBAC performance task is quite possibly the most enjoyable experience in the new assessments! We as arts educators can create some really genuine and fun performance tasks within our classrooms that can be real-life and college and career ready!


SBAC States: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/about/member-states/
PARCC States: https://www.parcconline.org/parcc-states
NGSS States: http://www.academicbenchmarks.com/ccss-state-status/432-ngss-map
ASCD Overview: http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/policy-priorities/vol17/num01/Common-Core-Assessment-Consortia.aspx
Scott, D. (2012). Two paths toward common core standards assessments. http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/two-paths-toward-common-core-standards-assessments.html

Next Week: Strategies
Creating your own SBAC-Styled Performance Tasks

So now that we know a little about the SBAC performance task, how can we create some for our own classrooms? This article will give you a crash course in creating your own SBAC-styled performance tasks for the arts classroom!

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Chief Academics Officer, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.