Frequently Asked Questions - October 18, 2017

What is the “print on demand” option?

Print On Demand is an Accommodation for students with a documented disability in an IEP or 504. Print On Demand is a non-embedded accommodation consisting of paper copies of either passages/stimuli and/or items are printed for students. For those students needing a paper copy of a passage or stimulus, permission for the students to request printing must first be set in TIDE. For those students needing a paper copy of the test, the help desk must be contacted by the school or district coordinator to place an order for the student. A very small percentage of students should need this accommodation.

Will speech-to-text be an adaptive feature?

This is a non-embedded Accommodation dictated by an IEP or 504. Voice recognition allows students to use their voices as input devices to the computer, to dictate responses or give commands (e.g., opening application programs, pulling down menus, and saving work). Voice recognition software generally can recognize speech up to 160 words per minute. Students may use their own assistive technology devices. Students who have motor or processing disabilities (such as dyslexia) or who have had a recent injury (such as a broken hand or arm) that make it difficult to produce text or commands using computer keys may need alternative ways to work with computers. Students will need to be familiar with the software, and have had many opportunities to use it prior to testing. Speech-to-text software requires that the student go back through all generated text to correct errors in transcription, including use of writing conventions; thus, prior experience with this accommodation is essential. If students use their own assistive technology devices, all assessment content should be deleted from these devices after the test for security purposes. For many of these students, using voice recognition software is the only way to demonstrate their composition skills. Still, use of speech-to-text does require that students know writing conventions and that they have the review and editing skills required of students who enter text via the computer keyboard. It is important that students who use speech-to-text also be able to develop planning notes via speech-to-text, and to view what they produce while composing via speech-to-text.

Are there codes to enter into TIDE to indicate designated supports and accommodations?

Yes, you will find them on the .xlxs or .csv format called StudentSettingsTemplate that can be downloaded in TIDE.

Accommodations vs. Modifications. What can schools do for students that don’t have identified IEPs, but require modifications?

Universal tools are access features of the assessment that are either provided as digitally- delivered components of the test administration system or separate from it. Universal tools are available to all students based on student preference and selection. The Smarter Balanced digitally- delivered assessments include a wide array of embedded universal tools. These are available to all students as part of the technology platform. Some universal tools may need to be provided outside of the computer test administration system (non-embedded).

Designated supports for the Smarter Balanced assessments are those features that are available for use by any student for whom the need has been indicated by an educator (or team of educators with parent/guardian and student). Designated supports need to be identified prior to assessment administration. Embedded and non- embedded supports must be entered into the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE). Any non- embedded designated supports must be acquired prior to testing.

Accommodations are changes in procedures or materials that increase equitable access during the Smarter Balanced assessments. Assessment accommodations generate valid assessment results for students who need them; they allow these students to show what they know and can do. Smarter Balanced states have identified digitally-embedded and non-embedded accommodations for students for whom there is documentation of the need for the accommodations on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 accommodation plan. Determination of which accommodations an individual student will have available for the assessment is necessary because these accommodations must be made available before the assessment, either by entering information into the TIDE, for embedded accommodations, or by ensuring that the materials or setting are available for the assessment for non-embedded accommodations.

PLEASE NOTE: Any adjustments to the default of regular test Universal Tools (if you’re going to the next level of Designated Supports or Accommodations) must be entered into the TIDE system ahead of signing in for the test. A Teacher/Test Administrator (TA) will not have the credentials to change settings in TIDE – this needs to be done by a School Test Coordinator (SC), District Test Coordinator (DC) or District Administrator (DA) so it should be done ahead of time.

Does TIDE have to be set up with accommodations immediately so students can access them for practice tests and Interim/Summative tests?

Not for the training and practice test, but accommodations need to be set prior to a student taking the Interim or Summative Assessment.

Is there a date by which designated supports and accommodations must be submitted?

Any time prior to student testing in the administration of an Interim and/or Summative Assessment.

Who enters student information for designated supports?

The DA, DC, SC, or TE.

Does the TA enter the students and accommodations into TIDE?

No. This is done by a DA, DC, SC, or TE user role.

AIR Test Delivery Systems

Will there be an error message if the entered information is wrong on the student log-in page of the secure browser?


Are SSIDs pre-loaded in the secure browser?

No, SSIDs need to be entered on the machine the student will be using at the time of testing.

Will the help desk be available in “real time” as we have questions during the administration of the test?

Yes, the Montana Help Desk is available Monday – Friday 6:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., Mountain Time outside of the testing window and 5:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Mountain Time during the Summative Test Window.

What does a student need in order to log into a test?

The Student will need the Secure Browser installed on their testing machine. Once the Secure Browser has been installed, the student will need their First Name, SSID, and the test session number (generated by the TA).

What is TIDE?

TIDE stands for “Test Information Distribution Engine.” The TIDE system provides administrators with the tools to add and manage users and students participating in the ELA and Math Smarter Balanced assessments.

What is TDS?

TDS stands for “Test Delivery System.” It is the online testing system that will be used for the practice tests, training tests, interim assessments (optional), and the summative assessments.

General Information

What type of calculator will be available in the secure browser?

Calculators are not available at grades 3 through 5. For grades 6 through 11, the calculator will vary by grade as follows: Grade 6 – Basic Calculators Grades 7 and 8 – Scientific Calculators Grades 9 through 11 – Scientific, Graphic and Regression Calculators.

What is the Portal for?

This portal acts as the gateway to all your assessment systems. The portal provides links and resources to help students and educators take full advantage of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) assessment systems.

Interim Tests

Is “near real time” dependent on completing and submitting the hand scored items?

Yes. The turn-around time to see results in ORS will depend on the school’s hand scoring process.

What training is provided for teachers who are hand scoring student responses?

The Teacher Hand Scoring System (THSS) user guide and training module are available on the portal. Also, there are training guides and exemplars for each item in the Teacher Hand Scoring System.

If a school uses only the CAT for Interim Assessments, is any hand scoring necessary?

The Interim ICAs are mimics of the full summative and the CAT and PT components cannot be separated. Hand scoring is necessary for the ICAs.

Is hand scoring at the building level? District level? State level?

Hand scoring can be done by SCs, TEs, or TAs.

Will Interim Assessments be available through the Summative Assessment testing window?

The Interim Assessment test window is scheduled for May 2 – May 27, 2016.

Does TIDE have to be populated with students prior to accessing Interim Assessments?


Do Interim Assessments need to use the secure browser?


Are Interim Assessments mandatory?

No, they are optional.

Are Interim Assessments similar to the Practice tests?

No, they are real tests, scored, and reported in the Online Reporting System.

Who is conducting the hand scoring?

Hand scoring for the Interim Assessments must be done at the local level; therefore, individual school staff needs to be trained to hand-score that component of the Interim’s using the Teacher Hand Scoring System (THSS).

Performance Tasks

Are Performance Task questions computer-adaptive?


Is a Performance Task done in the classroom before the test or during the test? Does it require a computer?

The assessments are comprised of two components (tests) for ELA and mathematics: a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) and a Performance Task (PT) also given on the computer. Smarter Balanced recommends that students take the CAT and PT items on separate days. For each content area, Smarter Balanced also recommends that students begin with the CAT items, followed by the PT. Districts/Schools may opt to administer in a different order if needed. In order to receive a score for an ELA or Math summative test, both the CAT and PT must be completed within each respective content area.

What is a Performance Task (PT)?

The ELA PT consists of two parts. It is recommended that each part be administered on separate days corresponding with the segment. In part 1 students will read sources and answer three research questions. During part 2 (the full write), students will provide a written response using those sources. Only in part 2 of the ELA PT may students have access to a hard-copy (non- embedded universal tool) or online dictionary or online thesaurus (embedded universal tools). The Mathematics PT is administered in one session.

Practice and Summative Tests

Where can a student find practice Performance Tasks?

Performance Tasks can be found in the grade level chosen within the Practice and Training Tests.

Does the Practice Test give feedback about responses?


Can students take the Practice and Training Test in TIDE multiple times for practice?

Yes, the Practice and Training Tests are unlimited.

What is the purpose of the Practice and Training tests?

The purpose of the Smarter Balanced training test is to give students and teachers an opportunity to quickly become familiar with the software and interface features that will be used in the summative assessments.

What type of calculator will be available in the secure browser?

Calculators are not available at grades 3 through 5. For grades 6 through 11, the calculator will vary by grade as follows: Grade 6 – Basic Calculators Grades 7 and 8 – Scientific Calculators Grades 9 through 11 – Scientific, Graphic and Regression Calculators.

Roles for Test Administration

Can one person be the DA, SC, and TA for a small school?

Yes, in a small school the same person could conceivably be the System Administrator (DA), the School Test Coordinator (SC), and a Test Administrator (TA).

As a TA or Teacher (TE) will you have access to all students or will you be assigned specific students?

SCs determine which students are rostered to each TA or TE. The TA or TE will be able to access the roster designated by the SC.


Who is conducting the hand-scoring?

Hand-scoring for the summative assessments is being performed by Measured Progress.

Test Administration

Are Chromebooks supported for Smarter Balanced assessments?


Are iPads supported for Smarter Balanced assessments?


Can students test again on the summative tests after passing in an attempt to improve their scores?

No, not during this administration window.

How many opportunities are students given to pass the ELA and Math assessments?

All summative assessments only allow one opportunity per administrations.