Board of Education approves testing changes

Board of Education approves testing changes

The Board of Education changed its testing policy Sept. 10, reducing the number of tests most students will take this year. The Board unanimously approved policy changes that eliminate the requirement for quarterly tests, most of which will be replaced with pretests and posttests that more closely align to the Common Core State Standards.

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) will still administer quarterly tests this year to students enrolled in High School Assessment (HSA) courses, which include English I and II, Biology, Algebra I, and Local State and National Government (LSN).  Pretests and posttests replace quarterly exams in a number of subjects, including: grades 1-8 reading; grades 1-8 math; second- and fifth-grade elementary science; middle school science and social studies; chemistry, earth and space science; world history; United States history; English III; and many elective courses.

Already this school year, teachers have administered more than 75,000 pretests, and schools were expected to complete testing by Sept. 13, said Cliff Eichel, director of research and assessment. The pretests and posttests better evaluate what students are learning through the Common Core, a curriculum CCPS transitioned to in the 2012-13 school year. The pretests and posttests are needed to help teachers and principals write their Student Learning Objectives, which are used to measure student growth and will be included in the new teacher and principal evaluations. In April, the school system will send to parents a report showing their child’s growth percentage. Posttests are scheduled between Feb. 10 and Feb. 28.

The pretest is providing instructional information and the data provides teachers and principals a baseline for development of academic targets for students. “The tests are aligned to the Common Core so they provide better information based on what we are teaching. The Maryland School Assessments (MSA) no longer applies to what we are teaching and we can’t wait two years for full implementation of the replacement assessment to find out if we are doing a good job,” Eichel said.

A cross section of CCPS employees are grading the pretests, and Eichel said Sept. 23 is a target date for getting data back to teachers. Employees are hand scoring reading and math tests, a lengthy process that uses a scoring rubric and requires extra time due to extended writing pieces. Eichel said the tests include more rigorous writing pieces than the MSA.

Board members expressed support for reducing the number of tests students are required to take during the year, which include both county and state assessments.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Connie W. Armstead, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, central office building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646. 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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