Is There Going to Be a New Testing Situation?

Students taking a test in classroom

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Students taking a test in classroom

“Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble. So we’re going to work with, states, school districts, teachers, and parents to make sure we’re not obsessing about testing…” President Obama stated in a video on facebook stated www.theatlantic.com.

When asked about the how he felt about current testing situation Superintendent Doug Domene answered, “I believe the new CAASPP Testing system is an improvement, although not perfect. In the early years of the CSTs many teachers complained that the test was promoting memorization and not understanding. These new tests are certainly an improvement in that regard.”

He also believes that now that the test is online that it allows for more adaptability and easier to hand out the test, there is less sorting involved. Dr. Domene also realizes that the CAASPP is still a work in progress, the science test are still the CSTs and the social studies tests are nonexistent (although they are not planned, it could be possible within a couple of years), making the test system clearly incomplete.

The district has also discontinued the High School Exit Exam for the next three years, at least.  Superintendent Doug Domene said, “So overall, it is difficult to grade such an incomplete picture, but there is progress being made toward a new testing system.”

“We were pleased overall. There were some low areas, but when comparing our scores to others around the county we were about where we expected to be,” stated Dr. Domene, ”The struggle has been on the analysis of the results. Because this is a baseline year, we were provided very limited actionable data. We hope to get more detailed analysis in future years, but for this year we could see (for example) that a particular grade level was low on one of the claims. But those are very broad areas — communicating reasoning in math, for example. So we expect our results to improve over time, especially if we can get more information on the student results.”

Two point three percent of the school year is used for testing for, average eighth-grader in public school. Between pre-K and 12th grade, students will about 112 mandatory standardized exams, according to  www.washingtonpost.com.

“As a district we are concerned about over testing our students.” Superintendent Doug Domene stated, “We have made attempts to limit the number of items on many of the common assessments or tests we administer. But we do need some assessments in order to make decisions and to help struggling students.”

Some teachers have so much experience that they can see a student struggle and know exactly what to do to help them excel in that area, but not every teacher has as many years of experience so they aren’t at that level yet. The tests help point out specific skills or gaps in knowledge, these tests also serve to help keep high standards across the 34 schools, and the thousands of classrooms. They are also used as placement tools to help make decisions about the next level of math a student is ready for, or a student’s status in learning English.

“An additional use of our common assessments for teacher collaboration. On those Monday late starts, teachers should be in classrooms reviewing data. Looking at how they can help students and improve their own instruction. They need this data to do that,” Dr. Domene said.

Working with there teachers, is is one challenge the PYLUSD district will have. They will continue to examine the tests, also the data behind them. Helping them figure out which teachers need more time teaching, but they know that some lessons are harder to learn than other.

“So having this type of short term assessment results can help us improve teaching. In all honesty, assessment should happen every day in every classroom. No student should walk out of a classroom at the end of the period without the teacher being confident that the student understood the lesson. Now that’s not standardized testing, but at this point, I am not sure we know what the President’s actual plan, if any, for this will be. Only time will tell,” Dr. Domene stated.