Posts tagged "assessments"
October 16, 2012
The city and other school districts desperately need additional funding if they are to raise academic standards, Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky said today.
Even though the city has done more to integrate new learning standards known as the Common Core than other districts and states, it cannot adequately train staff or buy the materials it needs with the resources it currently has, he said.
“We are bound to fall short if we raise the standards without investing in the support that educators need to meet this challenge,” he told the commission, according to his written statement.
The call for additional funding was one of three priorities that Polakow-Suransky outlined before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform commission today. The funding, he said, would be necessary to to purchase new books, software and other learning tools aligned to the Core, and help schools hire coaches to train teachers in the implementation of the Core. He also said the city needed more funds to develop a key piece of the new teacher evaluation system, rigorous assessments developed by the city for each grade level and subject area that would factor into teachers’ evaluations on top of many other criteria.
“As these assessments become more authentic there are real costs that come along with them,” Polakow-Suransky said. “None of this is funded.”
Polakow-Suransky was offering a solution to a problem that United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told the commission had already arrived. Mulgrew said the Common Core rollout has already been hindered by the lack of robust materials aligned to the new standards that teachers can use in classrooms now. (more…)
October 15, 2012
Next year’s state tests will be shorter, quieter, and potentially more offensive, state education officials said today.
The state math and reading tests that students in elementary and middle school take this spring — just over six months from now — will be the first that are aligned to new curriculum standards known as the Common Core. City and state officials have both warned that the tests will be tougher than what students have been used to, and in dribs and drabs they have released examples of Common Core-aligned test questions.
State officials outlined more nuts-and-bolts changes in a briefing with reporters today. They said that even though questions will more often test multiple skills, the overall length of the exams will not increase. For the youngest test-takers, students in third and fourth grade, the tests will actually decrease in duration, they said.
Last year’s tests were longer than ever before, with students in all grades sitting for around six hours of testing over six days. For third-graders, last year’s tests were more than twice as long as in 2011.
In another shift, the state will make it clear to schools that it’s okay for students to read quietly after they turn in their tests. At some schools, students have in the past been required to stay at their seats without anything to do until the maximum testing period elapsed, an arrangement that one anti-testing activist told the New York Times left her son playing “ballgames in his head.” (more…)
June 20, 2012
Educators sweating the state’s shift from old to new learning standards have received their first clues to what new tests will look like.
Teachers across the state opened their email inboxes Tuesday to an announcement from State Education Commissioner John King: Sample test items are now available.
Educators across the state have known for more than a year that next year’s elementary and middle school reading and math tests would be aligned to the new standards, known as the Common Core. But they hadn’t yet gotten detailed information about the assessments to help them revamp their instruction.
“It’s true that this is going to be a change in terms of the topics that are taught and the number of topics,” Shael Polakow-Suransky, the Department of Education’s chief academic officer, said this spring. “Planning for that is difficult given that we don’t know all the information at this stage.”
In his letter to teachers, King quoted an upstate official who told him, “The items are ambitious, but not unattainable.”
“We must be ambitious,” King added.
The Common Core shifts the focus of English lessons from narrative fiction to expository and argumentative writing. In math, it emphasizes word problems and problem-solving. And across all subjects, it favors assignments that deal with authentic, real-world questions. (more…)
November 30, 2011
The State Education Department official who has supervised the state’s testing program since 2004 — through skyrocketing scores, a brutal crash, and the dawn of an overhaul — has resigned.
David Abrams, the State Education Department’s assistant commissioner for standards, assessment, and reporting since 2004, announced his resignation today. His resignation is effective immediately, shocking some people who had expected to participate in meetings with him this week.
Abrams’s departure comes at a time of robust efforts to overhaul both state tests and how their scores are used — and of robust criticism of those efforts. Most recently, principals across the state have launched a rebellion against the state’s plan to use student test scores in teacher evaluations. This week, a plan to lengthen reading tests to four hours was released prematurely, then rescinded the next day amid backlash.
The department has yet to find a replacement for Abrams, according to SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins. He said other department officials would fill in for Abrams for now, as would members of a privately funded group that has been advising SED on implementing Race to the Top commitments, which include redesigning student assessments and teacher evaluations.
“Obviously [Abrams] will be missed, but we do have a really strong team that can fill in,” Tompkins said. He declined to comment on the reasons for Abrams’s departure.
Abrams supervised the state’s testing program during a period of controversy and change. (more…)
February 26, 2009
I recently reported about one mother’s high marks for the amount of testing at her son’s school, Explore Charter School in Brooklyn. Today I asked Morty Ballen, Explore’s founding principal, exactly how often Explore students are tested.
That depends on how testing is defined, Ballen answered. “There’s a really big difference between test prep and getting information from assessments,” he told me. Where tests, and test prep, are meant to judge students and teachers, assessments are used to generate information that teachers can use to improve their instruction, Ballen said. Explore prefers assessments.
So how are Explore students assessed, and how often? In a variety of ways, and every day. Here’s a summary of the school’s testing regimen:
- Students complete tests and assignments that their teachers create on a daily basis.
- They also take interim assessments several times during the year to give their teachers information about their progress in math, science, and social studies. These tests are created by Explore’s teachers. (more…)