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Articles: Assessment

A student from Pullman School District 267 in Washington wears electrical sensors on her head for an electroencephalogram (EEG) test that measures and records the electrical activity of her brain.

In what appears to be an average classroom, students from Pullman School District 267 in Washington wear devices that measure their pulse, eye movements and brain waves as a teacher gives a lesson. The lab monitors neurological data to study how learning takes place.

Until his retirement, Mel Hawkins was a consultant specializing in leadership development, human resources, and strategic planning. He is the author of Re-Inventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-first Century America.

The federal government, corporate reformers and state governments are engaged in a relentless attack against public schools. And our professional educators have not stepped up to acknowledge the deficiencies in our education process, deficiencies that only they are qualified to address.

27 states identify the arts as a core academic subject and 49 states have adopted elementary and secondary standards for the arts. (Click to enlarge)

The arts survive in American education, despite pressures placed on school leaders to focus on high-stakes tests in math and English: 27 states identify the arts as a core academic subject and 49 states have adopted elementary and secondary standards for the arts.

The opt-out movement shows no signs of slowing in the midst of this year’s spring testing season. An estimated two-thirds to three-quarters of a million students could chose not to take state standardized tests this school year.

In this objective look into a subject that has generated much debate, Ovid K. Wong and Chak Lau examine critical elements in preparing teachers and decision-makers for the tenure application process.

Old computers may not be trendy, but as school tech budgets shrink or stagnate, many administrators try to squeeze the most life out of their aging devices. Recycling and retrofitting, and hooking up to the cloud, allow districts to delay or even abandon established schedules for buying brand-new equipment.

Students can use a free Khan Academy test prep program to better prepare for the redesigned SAT.

The redesigned SAT seeks to expand opportunities for all students to go to college—but its focus on reading comprehension may make the exam more difficult for English-language learners and low-income students.

Pomona USD in California has raised its graduation rate to 88 percent. The turnaround began when Pomona formed partnerships with several community organizations and nearby colleges.

No matter how cutting-edge the technology or advanced the curriculum, students have a hard time mastering essays and equations if they’re hungry, traumatized or feeling marginalized by a textbook’s inaccurate portrayal of their ethnic group.

Gregory Firn has been a superintendent and a deputy superintendent, and has had educational leadership roles in Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington and Nevada, and overseas.

Leadership is never more critical than when creating and sustaining a data-centric learning culture, as Lane Mills advises in a white paper on how districts can access and integrate data to make informed, proactive decisions.

Leaders in Johnston County Schools in central North Carolina knew they needed to find more effective ways to help struggling students, close the achievement gap and meet their core instructional priorities. So they carefully planned a pilot program to choose the best adaptive learning system for the district’s 25,000 K8 students and their educators.

Students attending the 38 schools in the New York Performance Standards Consortium complete practical assessments instead of high-stakes tests. (Photo: Roy Reid)

An alliance of New York schools continues to drop high-stakes tests in favor of performance-based assessments as the opt-out movement gathers steam.

The No Child Left Behind Era officially ended in December as President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The new law has been hailed by education leaders as an important re-correction.

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.

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality (Click to enlarge)

The vast majority of states require student growth and achievement to be factored into teacher and principal evaluations.

But most states and districts are now grappling with the practical realities of implementing those policies, according to the October report “State of the States 2015: Evaluating Teaching, Leading and Learning” from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

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.