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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Common Core assessments are making testing easier for students with special needs, experts say. The computer-based exams include tools such as on-screen calculators and read-aloud instructions to enhance accessibility for students with disabilities while keeping them in the classroom with their peers.
The upcoming PARCC and Smarter Balanced online assessments require students to use secure, locked-down machines. When district leaders invest in this equipment, they should also consider selecting devices that will support increased student achievement and college and career success, such as Google Chromebooks. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2014, featured a Google for Education team member, who discussed the unique benefits of Chromebooks and how these machines can be used for online assessments.
Whether assessments administered in a district are producing useful data can be determined through establishing a comprehensive assessment plan. Assessments should support a district’s strategic plan and determine student progress according to Common Core State Standards. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 20, 2014, featured experts in curriculum development and school improvement, who presented the best ways to develop strategic assessment plans, how to determine assessment effectiveness, and how to inform stakeholders of student progress.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were finalized in April 2013 after a lengthy research and development process by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Achieve and a group of 26 states. Not a set of curricula, the NGSS serves to provide teachers with guidelines for teaching practical, more in-depth science.
Field testing for the Common Core assessments wrapped up in June, with districts in 36 states reporting mostly successful first runs despite some challenges around technology, test questions and scheduling.