This year, Oregon school districts will be administering the so-called Smarter Balanced Assessments in English and math to Oregon schoolchildren as part of a nationwide movement. It's all supposedly to raise achievement levels for kids and teachers.

The tests—part of the Common Core State Standards—are so new that state officials haven't decided yet how high a student will need to score in order to pass. The tests are set for April and May.

This morning, parents and teachers in the Portland Public Schools district are buzzing about one detail of a third grade practice test that's available online: the incredibly complicated instructions that one teacher said scored at eighth-grade reading level in online calculators.

"Jimmy Fallon or SNL could turn this into a great skit," one flummoxed adult wrote online. "Perhaps comedic ridicule would bring attention to this mindlessness."

Check out the first set of instructions for yourself. How do you think the average third grader would respond?

Student Directions Astronauts Informational Performance Task Task:Your class has been learning about different types of jobs to prepare for your school's job week. Your teacher has asked each person to learn about a different job. You think being an astronaut must be an interesting job so you decide to learn about what it is like to be an astronaut. You have found two sources about being an astronaut.After you have reviewed these sources, you will answer some questions about them. Briefly scan the sources and the three questions that follow. Then, go back and read the sources carefully so you will have the information you will need to answer the questions and complete your research. You may click on the Global Notes button to take notes on the information you find in the sources as you read. You may also use scratch paper to take notes.In Part 2, you will write an informational article using information you have read.Directions for Beginning:You will now review two sources. You can review either of the sources as often as you like.Research Questions:After reviewing the research sources, use the rest of the time in Part 1 to answer three questions about them. Your answers to these questions will be scored. Also, your answers will help you think about the information you have read and viewed, which should help you write your informational article.You may click on the Global Notes button or refer back to your scratch paper to review your notes when you think it would be helpful. Answer the questions in the spaces below the items.Both the Global Notes on the computer and your written notes on scratch paper will be available to you in Part 1 and Part 2 of the performance task. Part 1Sources for Performance Task:Source #1You have found a source describing the type of training that astronauts receive in order to do their job.

The student here answers a few questions. Then he or she is directed to read additional instructions.


Student DirectionsAstronauts Informational Performance TaskPart 2You will review your notes and sources, and plan, draft, revise, and edit your writing. You may use your notes and go back to the sources. Now read your assignment and the information about how your writing will be scored, then begin your work.Your Assignment:Your teacher is creating a bulletin board display in the school library to show what your class has learned about different types of jobs. You decide to write an informational article on astronauts. Your article will be read by other students, teachers, and parents.Using more than one source, develop a main idea about being an astronaut. Choose the most important information from the sources to support your main idea. Then, write an informational article that is several paragraphs long. Clearly organize your article and support your main idea with details from the sources. Use your own words except when quoting directly from the sources. Be sure to give the source title or number when using details from the sources.REMEMBER: A well-written informational article has a clear main idea.is well-organized and stays on the topic.has an introduction and conclusion.uses transitions.uses details from the sources to support your main idea.puts the information from the sources in your own words, except when using direct quotations from the sources.gives the title or number of the source for the details or facts you included.develops ideas clearly.uses clear language.follows rules of writing (spelling, punctuation, and grammar usage).Now begin work on your informational article. Manage your time carefully so that you can1. plan your informational article.2. write your informational article.3. revise and edit the final draft of your article.Word-processing tools and spell check are available to you.For Part 2, you are being asked to write an informational article that is several paragraphs long. Type your response in the box below. The box will get bigger as you type.Remember to check your notes and your prewriting/planning as you write, and then revise and edit your informational article.