by Andrew Foster
In the district where I teach, we are in the process of finding a new superintendent. The departing superintendent is loved by most and has positively affected our schools. The search has been extended into the summer and an interim superintendent has been named. The delay has taken its toll on morale. We teachers do not like change.
Many are dreading the idea of new leadership because they believe from experience that a new superintendent will mean new programs or initiatives that will drastically change what teachers are required to do on a daily basis. Of course, this is entirely possible. But a different change is already on the way that will dramatically affect every classroom whether we have a new superintendent or not. The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states. Most states are on track for full implementation by 2014. New assessments are also being developed to measure progress and hold schools accountable for learning. We are about to begin a period that some are referring to as the most drastic changes in public education in the last 60 years.
In a previous post we discussed the pitfalls of current assessment systems and the positive possibilities of the new assessments associated with the Common Core. The two main assessment consortia are commonly referred to by their acronyms: PARCC and SBAC.
If we are to improve on the current assessment system, we should carefully consider what we know about the new CCSS assessments and be prepared to advocate for strong, meaningful assessment reform.
- High-stakes testing continues. If you were looking for reforms that would remove the emphasis on standardized testing, don’t hold your breath. High-stakes is still the name of the game with both these assessments.
- Both assessments indicate computer-based testing and scoring. They are referred to as “next generation” assessments. States and districts are strapped for cash, but these assessments will require a huge investment in technology just to administer the test, not to mention the need for instructional technology to meet CCSS requirements.
- Much of what we know about these assessments is tentative, and much of what we don’t know is decisive. Right now, it’s “wait and see”. The PARCC consortium is supposed to release the first test item examples this summer.
- It is a distinct possibility that students and teachers may soon have the opportunity to teach, learn, and be assessed throughout the school year based on a set of assessments that are carefully designed and fully aligned to the learning standards.
- We may finally be turning the corner toward LESS assessment. Both consortia express the desire to create assessments that are flexible in timing and purpose so that districts and schools can tailor the assessment schedule to meet their needs.
- The development of new assessments early in the process will inform the creation of quality curriculum and technology resources that will help students and teachers access the learning required by CCSS. Backward design still works!
My advice: keep your eyes and ears open for anything concerning CCSS assessment. This will tell us where the movement is headed, how it will get there, and how soon we can expect these changes to be implemented in our own communities.
What do you think of PARCC and SBAC? Have any great links to share? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @abfosEd.