“Correct answers are essential… but they’re part of the process, they’re not the product. The product is the math the kids walk away with in their heads…” – Phil Daro, co-author of CCSM

SBAC (or CAASPP, if you prefer) and how to prep for it while keeping the focus on learning and the stress level low. Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.52.15 PM

So how do we know what students have in their heads? One formative assessment approach is to use the  SBAC practice questions-my CPM students tackle them with aplomb, and enjoy seeing the answer keys and details behind each one.  I learn as much as they do as we take each one apart and see what makes it tick.

Common Core has a deliberate sequence of skills that follow from 6th to 7th to 8th grade.  We can see a little of the sequence in the practice problems below from SBAC.  If we look at the computerized assessments as a video game, then students can” level up” each year. (See the progressions here: fascinating, and not light going-you may need a glass of wine!
Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.52.24 PMOne low impact way to teach the curriculum and prep kids for the test can be paper & pencil warm ups such as these, taken from the practice problem sets.

The following 3 practice questions are my attempt to show a progression from the SBAC.  Links are provided for easy access.



Grab paper & pencil and actually solve these 3 problems- you’ll learn a lot
  • 6th grade Expressions & Equations DOK 21…will you find them all?


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Note: Multiple choice has not gone away, but it is in a new form, how many “8t+34”s will 6th graders find?  They can mark them all 🙂

  • 7th grade Expressions & Equations DOK 2; Part B looks evil but has an easy out…


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Part B Note: ½ (anything)=7, the “anything” has to be 14…see the shortcut?  (c+6) has to =14J. The advantage of CCSM is that kids get to explore the cool alternative methods to solve!

  • 8th grade Expressions & Equations DOK 2; who actually reads the directions these days?


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Note: (I could do this all day!) The temptation is to skip the directions and zoom to a fast, wrong answer…4x+2, right?  Kids definitely need to learn to READ, even in math class!   Oh, “no solution” you say?  Now the DOK 2 makes a little more sense.  4x + anything but 2 is the correct answer on this one.

Time for a huge parenthetical note (I have a big parenthetical note addiction):

Did you notice the Depth of Knowledge (DOK) level?  My 8th graders are very interested in DOK now, and they critique many class problems as to level.

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Not all educators are crazy about this graphic, but it does for a start- a good 4 minute video is at http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/CommonCoreLibrary/ProfessionalLearning/DOK/default.htm

If you want to nerd out further on DOK, http://svesd.net/files/DOK_Question_Stems.pdf is a good place to start.) (End of parentheses!…For now.)Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.53.15 PM

To wrap up for February: Over several months, I have seen students learn a lot about content and format from using the SBAC practice problems as warm ups one problem at a time.  They are easy to correlate to the lessons we have done through out the year, and offer a low stress method to set each student up for a comfortable and familiar feeling during testing.  You can contact me at bethbaker52@gmail.com to further this discussion and offer any tips you have for using SBAC to implement or support the CCSMJ

Next month: Cooperative learning and why it’s worth it.