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Articles: Testing

To meet the Common Core State Standards, students must develop the 21st-century skills needed for college and career success. Districts must adapt their curriculum to ensure students are being taught these digital skills. This web seminar, originally broadcast on September 19, 2013, addressed integrating technology into the classroom in a practical way, how district leaders and teachers must work together to address curriculum change, and the software that can help students prepare for the rigor of Common Core assessments.

The Common Core State Standards assessments will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. To prepare, district technology leaders need to look at their networks and systems. Changes may need to be made to handle the challenges of online assessments. This web seminar, originally broadcast on August 8, 2013, featured district and PARCC speakers who discussed the format of the assessments, the technology requirements necessary to deploy the assessments, and the challenges in preparing your networks.

Once again, the United States has landed in the middle of the pack on an international assessment, leading education experts to question what top-performing nations are doing that our schools are not.

The results of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were “encouraging but modest,” according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Eighth graders made small gains in reading and mathematics, while fourth graders improved slightly in math but not reading.

Diane Ravitch, once a top supporter of testing and school choice, is now leading the fight against those policies.

Diane Ravitch is outspoken in her criticisms of education in this country. Her latest book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (Knopf, 2013), pulls no punches in its arguments against testing, the charter school movement, and federally driven mandates.

Arriving at Rensselaer Central Schools Corporation in Indiana as assistant superintendent in July, 2012, after four years with the Indiana Department of Education, one of my first tasks was to develop a plan for our administrators to better comply with the state’s new teacher evaluation law.

I recently listened to a call-in show on a local National Public Radio station. The head of the state’s board of education was interviewed about the recent standardized test scores in her state. Two teachers called in. Here’s my takeaway from the conversation (somewhat out of context, but the words are accurate):

More than half of the high school graduates who took the SAT were not prepared for college courses, the College Board says in a new report. Only 43 percent of test takers met the SAT’s college-readiness benchmark score of 1550, according to the report. 

The country’s obsession with high-stakes testing is an expensive, destructive failure. Students who can least afford it pay the biggest price.

The substantial number of high school graduates who land in higher education unprepared academically and have to take remedial courses to catch up are more likely than other students to quit before earning a two- or four-year diploma. Now, districts in several states are intervening more aggressively than in the past to better prepare struggling high school students for college-level classes.

Most students who took the ACT risk falling behind in college and lack the skills necessary to join the modern workforce, according to a report from the company that offers the test. Meanwhile, 31 percent of students tested did not meet any of the assessment’s college benchmarks, which the report says demonstrates the need for a more rigorous curriculum in U.S. schools.

The need for high-speed internet in schools is growing exponentially. District Administration spoke with four administrators from around the country about what is driving current bandwidth-consumption trends, what impact increased bandwidth has on tight budgets, and what the future of bandwidth looks like for K12 schools.

JIM RARUS

Almost two out of three Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards, and those who have understand little about them, a new poll finds.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre interacts with Knox County elementary school students.

Knox County Schools is a flourishing district in Tennessee, with most of its 15 high schools having graduation rates above 90 percent. Within the last five years, the district has also has also seen modest gains in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies as measured by the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests for grades 3 through 8.

Since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2001, trying to close the achievement gap has been on every educator’s mind.

Key to that law has been the requirement of measuring achievement through the administration of standardized tests to determine the extent to which schools are making “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) toward that goal.

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