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Articles: Assessment

New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey students can benefit from switching up where they do homework, or even changing the music they listen to while studying.

In his book How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey examines well-worn advice about learning, only to find much of it misguided or outdated. Instead, recent research shows that sometimes contradictory study techniques may actually lead to greater success in the classroom.

Mia Dubosarsky, director of PD at The STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, helps teachers teach science.

From designing more creative and flexible science classrooms to developing community service projects that engage girls in STEM, this year’s National Science Teachers Association conference in March is all about K12 students connecting learning to the real world. Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and an accompanying push for hands-on learning is bringing new ways to think about integrating science—and scientific thinking—into everyday experiences.

The testing boycott has begun: In November, thousands of Colorado high school students refused to take the state’s new science and social studies exams in a widespread protest against the amount of classroom time devoted to standardized testing, according to published reports.

Common Core supporter Sonja Santelises, a vice president at the Education Trust, says political uncertainty over the standards could destabilize classrooms.

Praised and pilloried at both ends of the political spectrum, the Common Core State Standards—and the years-long effort to establish national benchmarks for student learning—will pass a crucial milestone in 2015, when 11.5 million American schoolchildren finally tackle Common Core-linked math and English tests.

Educators and thought leaders offer forecasts for technology, instruction, administration and assessments.

To help our readers navigate the coming year in K12 education, District Administration proudly presents its first-ever Year Ahead edition. In-depth stories on the major trends reshaping classrooms this year feature insights on technology, instruction, administration and assessments. Educators and experts also weigh in on how districts can find funding to support initiatives in all these areas.

Scott McLeod is the author of the popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog.

A photo on Scott McLeod’s popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog carries the caption, “We’re so busy doing 20th century teaching, we don’t have time to initiate 21st century learning.” McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership, is concerned that an education system that doesn’t embrace technology won't prepare students to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

Timothy Purnell is superintendent and Timothy Teehan is academic achievement officer for Somerville Public Schools.

Massachusetts has led the nation with the top National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for the fifth consecutive time on fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics assessments.

While we realize that unknown variables are part of the equation, it was this statistical preeminence that led us to send a team from Somerville Public Schools in New Jersey to the Northbridge School District in Massachusetts to investigate instructional practices.

Kent Scribner, in middle, celebrates witih Camelback High School students at their graduation last spring. He focuses on not just graduating students, but having them be prepared for college and life.

You could say it’s understandable that Kent Scribner’s hobby is working on a 1985 black El Camino. Refurbishing a car takes patience, dedication and an eye for potential. Those are the same qualities this superintendent has been bringing to the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona since taking over in 2008.

Lawrence Public Schools is the first district in Kansas to adopt federal sex education standards that go beyond what’s required by the state.

Kansas requires all schools to teach some form of human sexuality and HIV awareness, but doesn’t stipulate a curriculum. The Lawrence school board voted last year to adopt the national standards, which provide a more detailed framework for age-appropriate sex education in K12, says Vanessa Sanburn, vice president of the school board.

Only 69 percent of high school seniors who took the ACT in 2013 enrolled in a postsecondary institution that fall.

Record numbers of students are taking the ACT exam and expressing an interest in higher education—but scores on both the ACT and SAT are lagging, according to test administrators.

More than 1.84 million 2014 graduates—a record 57 percent of the national graduating class—took the ACT. This is a 3 percent increase from 2013, and an 18 percent increase compared to 2010, according to the ACT’s annual “Condition of College & Career Readiness” report, released in August.

Richard Elmore is the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

In an age of assessments, every school today knows how it is performing and understands the stakes of failing to meet expectations. Yet vast numbers of schools across the nation have been unable to improve, despite the threats of sanctions or outright closure.

To measure academic excellence, Tacoma Public Schools tracks test scores, graduation rates, college acceptance and participation in extracurricular activities.

Instead of quizzes and tests that interrupt classroom activity, many districts and testing companies are working on ways to integrate formative assessments into daily instruction and use technology to gather real-time feedback on student progress.

Donald Aguillard is the superintendent of St. Mary Parish Public Schools in Louisiana.

With several schools in Academic Assistance and test scores lagging behind the state average, St. Mary Parish Public Schools (Louisiana) knew powerful change was needed.

William Keswick is K12 science curriculum coordinator, K12 STEM coordinator and county athletic director for Talbot County Public Schools in Maryland.

In schools across the country, students are swapping their pencils and bubble sheets for computing devices and online tests.

Proponents say online assessment is the wave of the future. Opponents say teachers and students aren’t ready. Students from poverty may be at a disadvantage when taking online tests, they argue. I would counter that school should be the place that levels the playing field for those who don’t have access to technology at home.

John Kuhn, superintendent of Perrin-Whitt CISD in Texas, is the author of "Fear and Learning in America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education."

Perrin-Whitt CISD Superintedent John Kuhn’s new book, "Fear and Learning in America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education," makes a pitch for sensible education reform.