Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ - General InformationGeneral Information

  • M-F 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.MT
     

  • Yes. It is suggested that you check you have the latest secure browser prior to the summative test administration window opening. Review the Secure Browsers page for more information.

  • 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, the Montana Science Assessment (MSA), and the Alternate Montan Science Assessment (AMSA).

  • This portal acts as the gateway to all your assessment systems for online testing. The portal provides links and resources to help students, families, and educators prepare and take full advantage of the online assessment systems provided by Cambium Assessment, Inc.

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

  • Yes, they are supported for online testing. See the Supported Browsers page. 

  • The purpose of the  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. 

  • No, TIDE is systematically synced with nightly student file uploads from the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) student registration system. All student demographic information should be updated in AIM.

  • No. Smarter Balanced, MSA, and AMSA all use the same online testing system. The secure browser does not need to be downloaded multiple times to administer any of these assessments online.

  • TDS stands for “Test Delivery System”. It is the online testing system that will be used for the practice tests, training tests, optional ELA and Math interim assessments, summative assessments, Montana Science Assessment (MSA), and the Alternate Montana Science Assessment (AMSA).

  • Students can use the Secure Browser. Students can also use recent versions of the Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari browsers to take the practice or training tests, or they can use the native browsers built into iPads and Android tablets. Please be aware that the text-to-speech functionality is available only when using the secure browser.

  • TA Certification Course

    Anyone who will be administering an online assessment to students must first pass the online TA Certification Course. To access this course, Test Administrators will need their TIDE username and password. Test Administrators will not be able to log into the Test Administrator (TA) Live Site without passing this course. Even if you were certified for the 2019-2020 administration, you must retake the online TA Certification Course because it has been updated for the 2020-2021 school year.

    Training and Practice Tests

    The Training and Practice Tests site can be used to access training tests and practice tests online to become familiar with the optional interim assessments and required summative assessments for English language arts, mathematics, and science.

    The short Training Tests are designed to provide students and teachers with opportunities to familiarize themselves with the software, user interfaces, and navigational tools that they will use on the respective online tests. The questions on the Training Tests were selected to provide students with an opportunity to practice a range of question types and may be the same for multiple grades.

    The Practice Tests mirror the content of the various tests. The Practice Tests allows teachers, students, parents, and other interested parties to experience a full assessment or exam and gain insight into how the test will assess students’ mastery of the appropriate content standards.

    The Test Administrator may create a training test session in the TA Training Site and have each student log in using his or her login information and the session ID that is generated in the TA Training Site.

    Scores are not provided for the Training and Practice Tests. When students complete a Practice Test and click [End Test] and select “Yes” to continue to the next page, they should click “Review My Answers” to check their answer for each question while also reviewing the Scoring Guide or Answer. Once the student clicks "Submit Test," all of their answers will be erased. Practice Test answers cannot be printed. Answer keys for the Training and Practice Tests can be accessed on the Student Training and Practice Tests login page. Students and others can print out the answer keys and refer to them as they proceed through the training tests.

    Training Modules and General Resources

    Training modules for individual testing systems are posted in the “Training and Events” resources section on the Montana Portal.

    A number of manuals, user guides, and a list of Important Dates are also available to assist with the use of the online assessment system. Go to the Resources page to view all of the available information. Additionally, the MT Help Desk is available from Monday to Friday from 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. MT at 1-877-365-7915 or mthelpdesk@cambiumassessment.com.

  • The updated secure browsers, along with installation instructions, are available on the Secure Browsers page. Additional information, including guidelines for installing the secure browsers over a school network, is available in the Quick Guide for Setting Up Your Online Testing Technology and the related Configuration and Troubleshooting documents available for each operating system, available in the Technology resources section.

  • 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, UID, and the test session number (generated by the TA).

  • Yes, they are supported for online testing. See the Supported Browsers page. 

FAQ - AccessibilityAccessibility

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

  • Designated supports and accomodations information for all students should be entered into the Test Information and Distribution Engine (TIDE) prior to testing. If test settings are not accurately logged in TIDE, the student will not receive these on the online test.

  • 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.

  • 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 assessments. Assessment accommodations generate valid assessment results for students who need them; they allow these students to show what they know and can do. Montana OPI has 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. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Accommodation Plan is required to apply any accommodations to a student's test experience. 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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 accommodation is not a substitute for a paper test form.

  • Montana OPI has a comprehensive document outlining tools, supports, and accommodations offered for Smarter Balanced and Montana Science Assessment online assessments:  Montana Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines. This document is located in the Accessibility and Accommodations resources section on the Montana portal.

    Montana OPI has a comprehensive document outlining the accessibility tools, accommodation and supports offered for the Alternate Montana Science Assessment: Alternate Accessibility Guidelines. This document is located in the in the Accessibility and Accommodations resources section on the Montana portal.

  • 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

FAQ - Online Testing SystemsOnline Testing Systems

  • 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.

  • 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, the Montana Science Assessment (MSA), and the Alternate Montan Science Assessment (AMSA).

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

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

  • TDS stands for “Test Delivery System”. It is the online testing system that will be used for the practice tests, training tests, optional ELA and Math interim assessments, summative assessments, Montana Science Assessment (MSA), and the Alternate Montana Science Assessment (AMSA).

  • 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).

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

FAQ - Test AdministrationTest Administration

  • Yes. It is suggested that you check you have the latest secure browser prior to the summative test administration window opening. Review the Secure Browsers page for more information.

  • No. Smarter Balanced, MSA, and AMSA all use the same online testing system. The secure browser does not need to be downloaded multiple times to administer any of these assesments online.

  • No. TIDE is used for all Montana online testing programs (Smarter Balanced, MSA, AMSA). If you already have a TIDE account, it can be used to administer or work with any of these online tests.

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

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

  • 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, UID, and the test session number (generated by the TA).

FAQ - Smarter BalancedSmarter Balanced

  • The Smarter Balanced ELA and Math interim testing window is scheduled between August 24, 2020 to May 14, 2021.

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

  • No, they are optional.

  • Yes.

  • The Smarter Balanced interim testing window is scheduled between September 25, 2019 – May 22, 2020.

  • The summative assessments for Smarter Balanced 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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

FAQ - Smarter Balanced ELA and Math InterimsSmarter Balanced ELA and Math Interims

  • Smarter Balanced and Cambium Assessment, Inc. (CAI) continue to work to increase the number of items that can be scored through automated, or machine scoring, in order to relieve the burden of scoring on teachers. For items that continue to require handscoring, more data is required for collection to accurately train the machine scoring engine. CAI will not transition an item to machine scoring until there is sufficient data to confidently and consistently train the scoring engine to provide reliable student scores.

  • 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.

  • 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 the Reporting System.

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

  • No, they are optional.

  • Yes.

  • The Smarter Balanced interim testing window is scheduled between September 25, 2019 – May 22, 2020.

  • 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.

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

  • Yes. The turn-around time to see Interim Assessment scores in the Reporting System will depend on when the school or test administrator completes the hand-scoring process. While some tests are fully machine scored, there are some items that still require teacher handscoring within the Reporting System.

  • 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. 

FAQ - Hand-Scoring for ELA and Mathematics AssessmentsHand-Scoring for ELA and Mathematics Assessments

  • 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 the Reporting System.

  • 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.

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

  • Yes. The turn-around time to see Interim Assessment scores in the Reporting System will depend on when the school or test administrator completes the hand-scoring process. While some tests are fully machine scored, there are some items that still require teacher handscoring within the Reporting System.

FAQ - Montana Science InterimsMontana Science Interims

  • The Montana Science interim testing window is scheduled from September 14, 2020 to May 14, 2021.

  • Grades 5, 8, and 11.

  • Yes. The Montana Science Assessment testing window is scheduled from March 15, 2021 to May 7, 2021.

  • Yes.

  • No, they are optional. They are intended to support classroom instruction during the school year.

  • The Science interim assessments are comprised of short, fixed form, online interim assessments (“testlets”). Each testlet includes one “science cluster” focused on a specific NGSS-based standard. Interim assessments are meant to support classroom teaching and learning. Scores are not used for any accountability purposes and are not reported at the federal level. Please see the Montana Science Interim Assessment Overview in the Montana Science Assessment under the Interim Assessment section folder for the NGSS-based standards.

  • Unlike the Practice and Training Tests, the Interim Assessments are scored. Scores for the Montana Science Interims Assessments are available in the Reporting System immediately.

FAQ - Montana Science Assessment Summative TestMontana Science Assessment Summative Test

  • The Montana Science interim testing window is scheduled from March 15, 2021 to May 7, 2021.

  • Grades 5 and 8.

  • See the Montana Science Test Administration Manual under the Test Administration folder for on procedural information, training, test resources, test security, accommodations, and accessibility to prepare for and administer the Montana Science Assessments. For specific questions not addressed in this manual, please contact the MT Help Desk at 1-877-365-7915 or mthelpdesk@cambiumassessment.com.

  • The Montana OPI has a comprehensive document outlining tools, supports, and accommodations offered for Smarter Balanced and Montana Science Assessment online assessments:  Montana Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines. This document is located in the Accessibility and Accommodations resources section on the Montana portal.

  • The Montana Science Assessment is untimed. The estimated testing time is 90-120 minutes, plus an additional 10 minutes for reading the directions to the students. The OPI recommends planning two 45-minutes sessions for completion of the Montana Science Assessment, with the understanding that some students may require additional time for completion.

  • There will be a 20-minute pause rule set for the Montana Science Assessment. If a student pauses the test for more than 20 minutes, they will not be able to return to the questions that they previously answered. If a student pauses on a page that contains multiple questions, they will be able to return to the same page and respond to the remaining questions even after the 20-minute pause.

  • No, the Practice and Training Tests do not provide scores.

  • Yes, use of the Practice and Training Tests is unlimited.

  • There is one test for the Montana Science Assessment. There is not a separate performance task (PT) or additional test component.

  • No. Smarter Balanced, MSA, and AMSA all use the same online testing system. The secure browser does not need to be downloaded multiple times to administer any of these assesments online.

  • No. TIDE is used for all Montana online testing programs (Smarter Balanced, MSA, AMSA). If you already have a TIDE account, it can be used to administer or work with any of these online tests.

FAQ - Alternate Montana Science AssessmentAlternate Montana Science Assessment

  • There is a single online test for the Alternate Montana Science Assessment. There is not an additional PT or additional separate test component.

  • No. Smarter Balanced, MSA, and AMSA all use the same online testing system. The secure browser does not need to be downloaded multiple times to administer any of these assesments online.

  • No. TIDE is used for all Montana online testing programs (Smarter Balanced, MSA, AMSA). If you already have a TIDE account, it can be used to administer or work with any of these online tests.

  • The Alternate Montana Science testing window is scheduled from March 15, 2021 to May 7, 2021.

  • Grades 5, 8, and 11.

  • Ensure that your student’s IEP indicates alternate assessments for all subjects. This will create a flag in the student’s record, which will be reflected in our student file upload that syncs with TIDE regularly.

  • Yes, the SRC is required. The student response check should be conducted prior to administering the AMSA to verify student responsiveness. It is designed to evaluate your student’s ability to demonstrate a response. This content-neutral assessment provides an opportunity to observe and confirm the student's mode of response. it is not important that the student responds correctly to any of the items. The Student Response Check consists of 3 items.

    The SRC is available for download on the portal: https://mt.portal.cambiumast.com/core/fileparse.php/1579/urlt/AMSA_StudentResponseCheck.pdf

  • The AMSA is delivered to students via the online Test Delivery System, which is accessed by using the Secure Browser on an iPad, Chromebook, laptop, or other tablet or computer. The online Test Delivery System will continue to be the default method of test administration for all AMSA eligible students in spring 2021.

    A paper supplement accommodation is available for the AMSA; a fixed-form version of the test can be printed from the online testing interface for students who qualify for this accommodation per their IEP.

    Alternate Response Option Test Kits that provide answer option cards and test visuals can also be requested for eligible students. These kits are shipped separately for use with the printed version of the fixed-form test.

    When using paper tests and alternate response option materials, the TA must enter student responses directly into the online test delivery system using their own computer or iPad. For more detailed directions, see the Alternate Accessibility Guidelines available in Accessibility and Accommodations folder under resources and the AMSA Test Administration Manual under the Test Administration folder.

    To request Alternate Response Option Test Kits for eligible students, TAs must contact the OPI Assessment Help Desk at 844-867-2569 or OPIAssessmentHelpDesk@mt.gov. In your communication, please do not share any identifying student information via voicemail or email.

  • This assessment has an option of recording “No Response (NR)” to an item if the student does not respond. Full information on recording “No Response (NR)” may be found in the Alternate Accessibility Guidelines. An Early Stopping Rule will be available for students who are non-responsive to the first four items. Students and Test Administrators must follow the administration guidelines as outlined in the AMSA Test Administration Manual.

  • No. Smarter Balanced, MSA, and AMSA all use the same online testing system. The secure browser does not need to be downloaded multiple times to administer any of these assessments online.

FAQ - ReportingReporting

  • The Reporting System provides student performance reports for interim and summative assessments. The reporting consists of a Dashboard page and various assessment reports. The Dashboard provides a summary of all the assessments associated with a particular user or institution, and the assessment reports provide detailed performance data for each of those assessments. The Reporting System is accessed through the Montana portal. For more information, see the Reporting User Guide under the Data and Reporting resources section. Assessment reports are available at various levels within a district. Access to each assessment report depends on your user role. For more information about user roles, see the User Roles and Access document under the Test Administration resources.

  • Preliminary student reports and scores for the Smarter Balanced summative assessments are provided in the Reporting System within two weeks of a student completing both components of their test (CAT and PT). Scores for MSA and AMSA will be provided for the 2020-2021 school year. OPI currently plans to administer an operational field test for MSA and AMSA for the 2020-2021 school year. Scores are tentatively expected to be available in the Fall of 2021. OPI is closely following current events; in the event that changes are made to the Spring 2021 administration this timeline may be subject to change. Please follow the http://opi.mt.gov/ for the latest information.

  • Yes. The turn-around time to see Interim Assessment scores in the Reporting System will depend on when the school or test administrator completes the hand-scoring process. While some tests are fully machine scored, there are some items that still require teacher handscoring within the Reporting System.

  • 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.

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