Assistant Superintendent Report
RE Teaching and Learning:
This year changes to the state assessments of student achievement have provided lots of opportunities to prepare differently for spring testing. Below are some major impacts to be aware of.
- The new state measure of student achievement is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). It will replace the MSP and HSPE. It was designed by a consortium to measure the newly adopted common core standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. The tests will be online and adaptive. For more detailed and to take a practice test visit the links below.
- Grades 3-8 will participate in a Math and English Language Arts (ELA) exam. Each assessment will take 2 days, one day for online testing, and another day for completion of performance tasks. In past years state tests took one day each, now we will need a total of 4 days to test each grade.
- The impact of testing on the school schedule at WIS will be significant as they will need a minimum of 12 test days to complete testing. We will provide additional computers to the school during the test window to support the increased number of students testing online this year.
- Our middle school staff piloted the new assessments last spring and as a result feel most prepared among us. We have appreciated their experience as we prepare for the test in our other buildings.
- The high school is most significantly impacted by the changes in testing. Not only do the assessments change, the changes impact graduation requirements. Attached is a table of each graduating class testing requirements. Below is a bulleted list of significant changes and their implications.
- In order to meet the Reading and Writing graduation requirement, students will no longer take the HSPE. Instead they will take an ELA exit exam in 10th grade.
- The new English Language Arts (ELA) assessment called the ELA Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) was designed to be given at 11th grade. However in the state of Washington we have typically given this test in 10th grade. As a result students in 10th and 11th grade will do the following,
- Students will take an ELA exit exam in 10th grade that will look and feel like the SBA 11th grade test. They must pass this exit exam to graduate.
- Students in 11th grade will be asked to take the 11th grade English Language Arts (ELA) SBA again. It has no impact on graduation.
- In order to meet the math graduation requirements, students have a similar experience. A math exit exam will be developed and given to students until the class of 2019. In 2019 students will be required to pass an 11th grade math assessment.
- It is important to note that previously students took their math test directly after completing the given math course. This assessment was referred to as an End of Course (EOC) assessment. This was of great benefit to students as they can meet a graduation requirement earlier in their high school experience, and if they don’t pass the first time they have plenty of options to retake the course or test before their senior year. Under these changes, current 8th grade students no longer have the option to take the End of Course (EOC) but will have to wait until 11th grade to take and meet their required math assessment.
- To ensure students in the classes of 2014- 2019 have every opportunity to successfully meet their graduation requirements the high school assessment calendar is packed with testing days. Families will see adjusted school schedules for tests associated with graduation. Otherwise we tried to minimize the impact on teaching and learning.
- There is some concern students will choose not to show up or take tests that have no bearing on their graduation. For instance, the classes of 2014-2015 the 11th grade test does not affect their ability to graduate. The results of these tests will however be used as a public accountability and will result in a school improvement sanctions.
- As stated earlier, the new assessments are rigorous and well designed. We believe they will be effective measures of student achievement of grade level content. We expect kids will struggle with the increased complexity of the test, and because they are being assessed against a new standard (the common core standards).
- At the high school level, the anxiety level is even higher because the new standards were meant to be assessed in 11th grade and never intended to be a graduation requirement. However, because our state law requires students to pass an exit exam, these rigorous tests have become the graduation requirement- a purpose they were never intended to be used for.