Frequently Asked Questions


FAQ - AccessibilityAccessibility

  • Universal tools are access features that are either provided as digitally delivered components of the test administration system or provided separately from it. In general, universal tools are available to all students based on student preference and selection. The digitally delivered assessments include a wide array of embedded universal tools while others include non-embedded universal tools that are provided outside of the computer test administration system. 

    Designated supports are features available for use by any student when indicated by an educator (or team of educators with parent/guardian and student). Designated supports need to be identified prior to the assessment administration and must be entered into the Test Information and 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. Determining in advance which accommodations an individual student will have for the assessment is necessary because these accommodations must be made available before the assessment administration. These accommodations can be by entering information into TIDE for embedded accommodations or by ensuring the materials are available for non-embedded accommodations.

  • Print on demand is a non-embedded accommodation consisting of paper copies of either passages/stimuli and/or items are printed for students with a documented disability in an IEP or 504 Accommodation Plan. A very small percentage of students should need this accommodation. For those students needing a paper copy of a passage or stimulus, permission to request printing must first be set in the Test Information and Distribution Engine (TIDE). For those students needing a paper copy of the test, the MT Help Desk must be contacted by the school or district coordinator to place an order for the student. 

  • This is a non-embedded accommodation dictated by an IEP or 504 Accommodation Plan. 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.

  • Calculator is not available for Grades 3 through 5.

    Calculator is available for Grades 6 through 11.

    • Grade 6 - Basic Desmos Calculator
    • Grades 7 and 8 - Scientific Desmos Calculator
    • Grades 11 - Graphing Calculator

  • The School Test Coordinator (SC), District Test Coordinator (DC), District Administrator (DA) and Teacher (TE) have the credentials to enter the student information for designated supports. 

  • The School Test Coordinator (SC), District Test Coordinator (DC), and District Administrator (DA) have the credentials to enter the student information for accommodations. The Teacher (TE) or Test Administrator (TA) do not have the credentials.

  • Yes, there are. You are able to find them in the xlxs or .csv format called StudentSettingsTemplate that can be downloaded from the Test Information and Distribution Engine (TIDE).

  • No, they do not need to be set up for the Practice and Training Tests. However, they do need to be set up for the Interim and Summative Assessments.

  • Designated supports and accomodations information for all students should be entered into the Test Information and Distribution Engine (TIDE) prior to the Interim and Summative Assessments.

FAQ - General InformationGeneral Information

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

  • M-F 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.MT

FAQ - Practice, Interim, and Summative TestsPractice, Interim, and Summative Tests

  • Yes.

  • The purpose of the Smarter Balanced Practice and Training Tests is to give students and teachers an opportunity to quickly become familiar with the software and interface features that will be used during the Summative Assessments. 

  • Yes, the Practice and Training Tests are unlimited.

  • No, the Practice and Training Tests do not provide scores whereas the Summative Assessments do after the students' assessments have been scored.

  • No, they are optional.

  • Unlike the Practice and Training Tests, the Interim Assessments are scored. Scores for the Interims Assessments are available in AIRWays Reporting and Online Reporting System (ORS). 

  • Yes, the Test Information and Distribution Engine (TIDE) must be populated with students prior to accessing the Interim Assessments. However, TIDE is systematically populated with students because there are nightly student file uploads from the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI). 

  • The Interim Assessment testing window is scheduled between October 23, 2017 – May 25, 2018 while the Summative Assesment testing window is scheduled between March 21, 2018 – May 25, 2018.

  • No, they are not allowed to retake the Summative Assessment during this administration window.  

FAQ - Performance TasksPerformance Tasks

  • Smarter Balanced Summative Tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and math consist of two parts: Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) and Performance Task (PT).

    The ELA PT consists of two parts. It is recommended that each part be administered on corresponding separate days During 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 during 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.

  • No, Performance Task (PT) is not computer-adaptive. Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments have two parts: PT and Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). PTs in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics are not computer-adaptive, but are fixed form. 

  • The Interim Assessments are comprised of two parts for both English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics: Fixed Form Tests and Performance Task (PT). Smarter Balanced recommends that students take the Fixed Form Tests and PT items on separate days. For each content area, Smarter Balanced also recommends that students begin with the Fixed Form Tests items, followed by the PT. Districts/Schools may opt to administer in a different order if needed. 

  • The Summative Assessments are comprised of two parts for both English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics: Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) and Performance Task (PT). PT is fixed form where as CAT is computer-adaptive. 

FAQ - ReportingReporting

  • Due to the nature of the CAT and random distribution of PT, sometimes the number of items presented to a  group that meet that target is too small to calculate an accurate score. In CAT, the blueprint doesn’t require that every student receive every target. Therefore, at the aggregate level, the number of students per target varies across targets. When the number of students per target is too small, the target is flagged as “insufficient”.

FAQ - ScoringScoring

  • Hand-scoring for the Summative Assessments is conducted by Measurement Inc.

  • Hand scoring for the Interim Assessments is conducted at the local level; therefore, individual school staff needs to be trained to hand-score the various component of the Interim Assessment using AIRWays.

  • The AIRWays user guide and training module are available on the portal. Also, there are training guides and exemplars for each item located in AIRWays and available for download within TIDE under General Resources.

  • Yes. The turn-around time to see Interim Assessment scores in AIRWays will depend on when the school or test administrator completes the hand-scoring process.

  • Hand-scoring is not necessary for the Fixed Form Test part of the ICA, but it is necessary for the Performance Task part. Because both parts are necessary for a student to receive a score, hand-scoring is necessary for ICAs because of Performance Task.

FAQ - Test AdministrationTest Administration

  • Yes, they are supported for the Smarter Balanced Assessments. See the Secure Browsers page. 

  • Yes, they are supported for the Smarter Balanced Assessments. See the Secure Browsers page. 

  • Students are only permitted one opportunity per administration for the Summative Assessments.  

FAQ - Test Delivery SystemsTest Delivery Systems

  • TIDE stands for "Test Information Distribution Engine." It provides users with the tools to add and manage users and students participating in the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Smarter Balanced assessments.

  • TDS stands for "Test Delivery System." It is the online testing system that will be used for the Practice Tests, Training Tests, optional Interim Assessments, and Summative Assessments.

  • 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 ID (generated by the TA).

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

  • Yes, the Montana Help Desk is available Monday – Friday 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Mountain Time.

  • Yes, there will be an error pop-up message in the student log in page of the Student Test Interface (Secure Browser). 

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