Testing: Relief, a New Definition, and a Threat
School districts have received a lot of information about testing from the SDE this week. Talk about your mixed messages…
Superintendent Barresi this week made a big splash by eliminating the double testing requirement of middle school students who take math classes for high school credit. In the past, if a seventh or eighth grade student (and sixth grade in some cases) were to take Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II, he or she would still have to take the grade-level math test. It never made sense. For years, parents and schools have wanted this changed, and now, fortunately, it has been.
|OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 14, 2013) — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi today notified district school superintendents that middle school students testing in Algebra I, Algebra II or Geometry are no longer required to take the grade-level math assessment.
“This double testing has long been a requirement of the U.S. Department of Education, but it is unnecessary and not in the best interest of our students,” Barresi said.
Currently, students in seventh grade and eighth grade can take high school-level math courses. But students doing so are also being required to take seventh-grade or eighth-grade math and score proficient on these math exams, in addition to scoring proficient on the end-of-instruction test in Algebra I. Proficiency on the Algebra I end-of-instruction test is a graduation requirement of the Achieving Classroom Excellence law, enacted in 2005.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) requested a waiver from the double requirement in November 2013 but has yet to receive a response. The upcoming spring testing window, Barresi said, made it necessary for OSDE to do away with the double-testing requirement immediately.
The spring testing window starts April 10.
For accountability purposes, assessment results for the higher-level math classes will also count for a middle school’s A-F grade.
The one downside I see to this is that those schools will probably take a hit on their A-F Report Cards. We all know I’m not a huge fan anyway, but since these reports are the monkeybars on the education reform playground, even a difference of a couple of points can make a difference – not a real difference, but a perceived one.
School districts also received notice this week that the SDE was making changes to the testing program. You can see the list below, but the key change comes in the first bullet. From this point forward, schools are required to count students who miss the first six weeks of school as Full Academic Year students. The definition of FAY has changed before. At one point, it had been defined as continuous enrollment for a full year – as in from the end of the last year’s test cycle. Then it changed to the beginning of the school year, which probably makes sense anyway. This change does not.
|OK State Dept of Ed sent this bulletin at 01/15/2014 05:17 PM CST
Dear Superintendents, District Test Coordinators, Principals, and District Technology Coordinators,
The Oklahoma State Department of Education is in the process of amending Oklahoma’s ESEA flexibility waiver. Some major changes to be implemented this year include the following:
The ESEA addendum detailing these changes can be viewed at http://ok.gov/sde/accountability-assessments. This document and the associated appendices replaces [sic] the NCLB Accountability Workbook that was in place before Oklahoma’s request for ESEA Flexibility.
I have no idea what motivated this change. Maybe Oklahoma was counting too many students as NFAY to make the feds happy. In any case, this will disproportionately hurt schools with high mobility. Those tend to be the schools with the highest levels of poverty too. It is also important to note that changing the sample size will increase the volatility in reporting for schools with small populations of subgroups. With only 10 students in a group, one student’s performance can make a huge difference.
Lastly, the SDE sent out an email late this afternoon, reminding school districts that they must participate in the so-called Stress Test for the testing companies. Immediately, the okeducationtruths inbox began receiving messages. People are none too happy. Please read all the way to the bottom of the message:
|SDE: Participation in Statewide Online Readiness Test is Required
OK State Dept of Ed sent this bulletin at 01/15/2014 03:45 PM CST
Statewide Online Readiness Test
The January 28, 2014, Statewide Online Readiness Test is designed to ensure that the online assessment of students will be both reliable and valid. This required test will verify that at each school testing site:
the correct Test Client is installed on all computers that will be used for testing;
the required Content Package is installed on all computers that will be used for CTB testing;
each computer meets the required technical specifications;
each computer can connect with and communicate to the vendor’s servers;
the school’s infrastructure is correctly configured and can support the full load of students who will be testing simultaneously;
the test content can be correctly displayed; and
the testing client is fully operational on each computer.
This readiness test requires that on January 28th, all of the computers that will be used for assessment log into the testing site and “take” a practice test. If the technology setup has been done correctly, each Readiness Test can be completed in about 30-45 minutes. Schools can choose whether to have students take the practice test or have adults move from computer to computer to complete the readiness test.
Each assessment vendor will have a one hour window for their readiness tests on January 28, 2014.
9:00 to 10:00 a.m. CST – all middle schools and high schools will participate in the readiness test using the CTB test client and content (schools with students in grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12).
10:00 to 11:00 a.m. CST – all schools serving middle school students (grades 6, 7, and 8) will also participate in the readiness test using the Measured Progress test client.
If your school day does not start at 9:00 a.m., you can choose to do CTB testing from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and Measured Progress from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Each computer that will be used for testing needs to complete the appropriate readiness test(s).
Our assessment vendors will report the number and type of devices that successfully complete the readiness test. We will use that information to certify that all of the required schools in each district have met the readiness requirements.
Participation in the Oklahoma Readiness Tests is considered a required report under 70 O.S. § 3-104, subsection (13).
13. Have authority to require persons having administrative control of all school districts in Oklahoma to make such regular and special reports regarding the activities of the schools in said districts as the Board may deem needful for the proper exercise of its duties and functions. Such authority shall include the right of the State Board of Education to withhold all state funds under its control, to withhold official recognition, including accrediting, until such required reports have been filed and accepted in the office of said Board and to revoke the certificates of persons failing or refusing to make such reports;
In other words, if any of you schools out there (and I’m not pointing fingers at particular counties) decide that you don’t want to play with the testing companies on January 28th, the SDE may withhold your funding. I wouldn’t read that as an idle threat. I would read that as an actual threat.
Weren’t we just talking about character a couple of days ago? And now she’s already threatening schools.
Testing is a huge stress on schools. Because of space and computer limitations, classes often have to be displaced – sometimes for weeks at a time. Asking schools to do that – even for a brief window – on a random day in January, is a major imposition.
If someone were to choose non-compliance, any resulting loss of funds would be completely unacceptable.
Parents, teachers, legislators – oh, and voters – need to know this.