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Articles: Testing

Superintendent Klint W. Willert, of Brookings School District in South Dakota, says schools will move away from high-stakes tests in 2016.

Klint W. Willert

Superintendent, Brookings School District, South Dakota

Topic: Testing & assessment

Trend: Student achievement is measured by more than a single assessment score. The trend of moving toward multiple measures, not just a test score, to determine the quality of a teacher, a school, and district will continue to resound with the voting public. People are joining a new TEA Party - Tested Enough Already.

The new year may send familiar education challenges in new directions as administrators grapple with an uncertain testing landscape, staff shortages, the increased push for equity and constantly increasing charter competition.

Experts expect education budgets in most states to remain flat in 2016. The pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act should uphold the current Title I formula (aiding two-thirds of U.S. states) but reduce competitive grants.

Districts nationwide have more than 10 different titles for “literacy specialist."

Districts must navigate a larger number of titles and skill sets when hiring qualified literacy specialists to implement new learning standards and to improve students’ reading and writing performance.

Traditionally, a reading specialist worked in small groups or one-on-one with struggling students.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents to a DA survey expect of opt-out movement against testing to grow in 2016.

With students in grades 3 through 11 spending more than 20 hours per school year on testing, resistance and frustration over standardized assessments and learning standards may have reached critical mass.

Robert L. Urzillo is superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Pennsylvania.

The reform movement has been, and perhaps always will be, on-going.

We have witnessed the enactment of No Child Left Behind, which had the admirable goal of having all children read on grade level by 2014. That was followed by Race to the Top, another program that required standardized testing.

Education leaders and experts look ahead to 2016 and beyond in DA's special outlook edition.

District Administration presents its Year Ahead edition to help K12 educators navigate the new year. This special edition offers in-depth stories focused on the future of leadership, smart classrooms, assessments and standards, and technology. You’ll also results from reader surveys on curriculum, outsourcing, technology trends and facilities.

L. Rob Furman is principal at South Park Elementary Center in Pennsylvania.

With a windstorm of constant changes in education, are we forgetting some of the basics? I’m not talking about readin’, writin’ and ’rithmetic.

Have we, through the fog of technology and the pressures of highstakes testing, simply forgotten some of the basic concepts that veteran educators once took for granted?

Some parents argue high school final exams prepare students for college, but several universities including Harvard are phasing out such tests.

Maryland’s largest district dropped final exams for many high school students this fall, with more of the state’s schools following suit to cut back on time students spend preparing for and taking tests.

School gardens used for instruction are on the rise nationwide, and with them, student engagement and test scores, according to a recent study.

The nonprofit REAL School Gardens works with corporations to build outdoor classrooms at low-income schools. The gardens include 150 square feet of vegetable beds, perennial and herb beds, rainwater collection systems, composting bins, earth science stations, and animal habitats.

Testing companies find themselves competing on a tougher playing field for state assessment contracts after a rocky first round of Common Core exams spurred new expectations from state and district education leaders.

In the past year, Pearson has lost testing contracts in Florida (to American Institutes for Research, or AIR), Texas (to Educational Testing Service, or ETS), Ohio (to AIR), and, most recently, New York (to Questar Assessment Inc.), according to each state’s department of education.

Ken Robinson proposes a transformation of the nation’s schools from an outmoded industrial system to a highly personalized, organic model.

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education

Viking

Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader on creativity and human potential, proposes a transformation of the nation’s schools from an outmoded industrial system to a highly personalized, organic model.

In 2012, nearly every state was part of either PARCC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. As of this July, only 28 remained.

Public outcry over new standards-aligned tests led some states to cut funding, changing the exam landscape for 2015-16.

In 2012, nearly every state was part of either PARCC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. As of this July, just 18 states remained in Smarter Balanced, and 10 (plus Washington, D.C.) had stuck with PARCC. Twenty-two states opted to use their own assessments.

At the Legacy Traditional School District in Arizona, Chief Academic Officer Bill Bressler is trying to bump up the number of computers for his students to just take the tests. Above, a teacher instructs a lesson including Common Core standards.

Given the lack of concrete data, savvy administrators are analyzing their districts’ experiences with the assessments to improve the testing process and communications next year.

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart strives to bring equity, pride and higher achievement to a once-struggling district that is far more diverse than the rest of Iowa. A garden of multicolored poles students have installed outside one low-income school taunt would-be vandals and represents Ahart's belief in the transformative power of education.

In Clear Lake Middle School, part of Clear Lake Community School District in northern Iowa, teachers have time every week to access student data and tailor instruction.

A northern Iowa principal has set aside time for teachers to dig into test data so they can adjust instruction and improve achievement on state tests.

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