Using IABs for SBAC Test Prep

Author: Simone Vega, M.Ed
SBAC test prep

Are you ready to start SBAC test prep? In the state of California, our yearly state testing is called the CAASPP, and it consists of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) for math. There are optional interim assessments that students can take ahead of time to help prepare them for the state test. With state testing just around the corner, Interim Assessment Blocks, or IABs, are a great way to help students and teachers prepare. According to the Smarter Balanced website, IABs “focus on smaller sets of related concepts and provide more detailed information for instructional purposes.” 

IABs stand for Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments Blocks and are broken down into the core subjects that are assessed in specific grade levels. IABs can be launched from the CAASPP website using state students/teacher identification numbers. 

There are three main benefits of taking these practice tests:

  • Students become familiar with the online test-taking platform
  • Students build confidence and stamina around test-taking
  • Teachers can evaluate areas of need based on the results.

Benefit #1: Students become familiar with the online test-taking platform.

The SBAC can be intimidating–especially for first-time test takers, so it is a good idea to introduce the different tools and teach students how to use them properly. First, I like to have students watch as I model logging on to the test-taking platform. This alone can be a daunting task if not explicitly taught. I also show students where to find the different tools that are available to use during the test. One valuable tool is the highlighter to annotate questions and passages. Another tool that comes in handy is the “mark for review” tool that allows a student to return to a question if they are stuck.

Benefit #2: Students build confidence and stamina.

Throughout the years, the state assessments have always made students feel anxious. One reason I use IABs is to build their confidence and make them feel prepared. Since the IABs are relatively short compared to the SBAC, they are great for building stamina and confidence. We like to consider the IABs a celebration of learning and a way to feel confident when it is time for the SBAC.  

Benefit #3: The results inform teaching.

Another reason I like to give the IABs is because the results inform my teaching. I am able to identify areas of need or misconceptions that my students may have. After students take one of the interim assessments, I always review the scores and determine which standards students are struggling with. I then tailor my teaching to meet their needs. 

The way questions are worded on the SBAC are sometimes different from our curriculum. So, I use IABs to backwards plan. I also try to word higher-order questions similar to the way they are worded on the test. I tend to look at the IABs by the claim as they pertain to the concept currently being taught and I’ll make sure I am asking my questions in a similar format. 
IABs are a great way to support students with test-taking strategies, and they provide valuable teacher insight in order to gauge misconceptions students may have. You can check out this document to learn more about IABs for math.

How do you prepare your students for end-of-year testing? Let us know over in the Markers and Minions Teacher Community Facebook Group!

Check out other blog posts by Simone in our Math With Simone series.

Hi! I’m Toluca from Markers and Minions, where I help teachers feel more effective and confident with high-quality resources and an awesome teacher community!

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