M. Erez Kats, Seattle Language Arts Teacher
Yes, I would have to say that in all likelihood, the form your son received is probably a random occurrence. Most of the Common Core and Smarter Balanced assessments I have seen here in WA are one of a set of 4 or 5. Each form either focuses on a similar topic, but a slightly different skill, or sometimes it may focus on a similar skill with a slightly different topic. These tests are similar though on the whole, in that they are still based on a particular standard or set of standards that must be covered uniformly on all tests. There are not, to my knowledge, varying degrees of difficulty amongst these different forms. The tests in general are designed to be tougher than the state tests that were given earlier, which were perceived to be too easy, and therefore all of these new tests are supposed to challenge your son's intellect more than before. That said, many schools are also likely disorganized in terms of which students get which tests, and in some cases may not have any proper instructions on how to break up tests according to categories or different types of students. In many cases they are either guessing or randomly choosing which student get s what test. Hope that helps.