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Articles: Testing

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.

Glendale USD personalizes learning and sees academic improvements through the use of Ready and i-Ready by Curriculum Associates

By fall 2014, figuring out how to meet the requirements of the Common Core State Standards was critical for administrators in Glendale USD.

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.

David Browne is superintendent of the Randolph, New Jersey public schools, a suburban K12 district of 4,800 students.

Student assessment in public education has taken on an unprecedented primacy during the 2014-15 school year, as states scramble to administer one of two new national assessments.

Warren Berger's new books explores why questioning is neither taught nor rewarded in most schools.

In his book A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger says the art of inquiry is the foundation of advancements in science, medicine, mathematics and more. Yet, in our schools—the one place that should emphasize questioning—we value rote answers to standardized tests over challenging inquiry.

An ASCD survey found only a small number of people sensed a strong Common Core opt-out movement. (Click to enlarge_

Millions of students took Common Core tests this spring—and while it was business as usual in many districts, the spreading opt-out movement left some administrators caught between concerned parents and state requirements.

The need for a secure and protected digital learning environment in districts is paramount, particularly when it comes to online testing. While conducting large-scale online testing requires advanced coordination that is both time-consuming and complex, using iPads can save time and simplify the process, so teachers, students and administrators can focus on teaching and learning, and on being better prepared for online exams.

Murky state policies leave administrators in the lurch as more parents opt their children out of Common Core testing, according to a March report from the Education Commission of the States.

In many states, education departments remain silent on how districts should handle parent requests for opting students out of PARCC or Smarter Balanced testing, according to the report “Assessment Opt-Out Policies: State responses to parent pushback.”

When 11 former Atlanta Public Schools educators were convicted in March of racketeering for altering student standardized test scores in a systemic cheating scandal uncovered six years ago, it left many shocked and others concerned about the tests themselves.

State investigators concluded that cheating had occurred in at least 44 schools, with nearly 180 employees accused of fixing students’ incorrect answers and inflating test scores.

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