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Starting next spring, CA standardized test results to come back in days

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 at 5:39 pm in state news, test scores.

By the spring of 2013, schools will likely see how their students did on state exams within 12 days — rather than three months later — because of changes to the STAR testing system, according to the California Department of Education. In other words, the news will come at the end of the school year, rather than over the summer.

Here’s the news release that just arrived from the CDE:

State Schools Chief Torlakson and School Board President Kirst Applaud Improvements to Testing Agreement

CSTs and CMA Results Available in 10-12 Days Rather than Three Months

SACRAMENTO—Following approval of changes to the state’s agreement with Educational Testing Service regarding the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst issued the following statements:

“In keeping with the Governor’s State of the State address, the steps we are taking today will significantly reduce the time it takes to provide test scores to districts and schools. Beginning with the next school year, we expect both the California Standards Tests and the California Modified Assessment results to be reported in a matter of days rather than months, making them both more timely and more useful to our schools,” Torlakson said. “I commend President Kirst for his work with the Department of Education on this project.”

“Getting test results back quickly is a key priority of both the State Board and Governor Brown,” added Kirst. “This change will make our system more useful and responsive to teachers, parents, and students.”

Torlakson continued by saying, “I’m also pleased that we are moving forward with the transition to new assessments aligned to the new Common Core State Standards, including the creation of an advisory committee that will examine the wide range of tests now given to students,” Torlakson added. “This work will allow me to prepare my recommendations to the Legislature later this year about how to achieve a shared, long-standing goal to reduce both the number of tests that are given and the time it takes to receive them—and most importantly, give students, parents, and teachers the best possible information about their progress.”

For more information on the reauthorization, please visit the State Board of Education agenda Item 4 (EDITOR’S NOTE: I think it’s actually Item 9) at http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr12/agenda201203.asp.

How do you expect this change will affect you, your school, and your students?

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  • Cranky Teacher

    Faster test results? Yea! Not.

    This is more interesting, from NYT:

    “Over the course of the Great Recession and its aftermath, school district budgets have been ravaged while 270,000 teachers and other public school employees have lost their jobs.

    The teachers who have not been laid off have also been deeply affected by the economic downturn: class sizes are larger, after-school and arts enrichment programs have been cut, and an increasing number of their students are relying on safety net sources for health services and other basic needs.

    As a result, job satisfaction among public school teachers is plumbing new lows, according to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of MetLife, found that teacher satisfaction has dropped to its lowest level in more than 20 years, and that the proportion of teachers who report being very satisfied with their work has fallen by 15 percentage points in just two years.

    Only 44 percent of teachers surveyed reported being very satisfied with their jobs, compared with 59 percent in 2009.

    Those who reported high levels of satisfaction were demographically similar to those who reported low levels, in terms of race, gender and years of teaching experience. But those who were unsatisfied were more likely to teach in urban schools and in schools where more than two-thirds of the student population were from racial minority groups.

    The layoffs of recent years have definitely taken a toll on teachers’ sense of job security. In 2006, 92 percent of teachers said they thought their job was secure. By 2011, that proportion had fallen to 64 percent.

    Cutbacks and other economic factors contributed to the decline in job satisfaction. Teachers who expressed low job satisfaction were more likely to work in schools where there had been staff layoffs and a reduction or elimination of after-school programs. They were also more likely to work in schools where the educational technology was not up to date and where school buildings and grounds were in deteriorating condition. Teachers who had seen an increase in the number of students claiming health services or other social services, as well as an increase in the number of students coming to school hungry, were also more likely to report low job satisfaction.”

  • http://www.thefrustratedteacher.com/ TFT

    So, we’ll get the scores with about a month to go in the school year.

    Tell me how on earth we can use the data (as if we do–we don’t, we use pop quizzes and stuff) to inform our instruction for the kids tested?

    We can’t. Good work, Tom.

    Oh, and the standardized test doesn’t tell me anything about a student I don’t already know, or actually know more than the test can reveal.

    Please.

  • Livegreen

    Yeah but since OUSD will only update the school SARCs on their website about 7 months after, many parents won’t know where to find the updated scores anyway. You know, so they can actually use them.

    Troy, Katy or anybody: is there a good reason OUSD still features the API and SARCs from two school years ago? Did the pie chart maker leave? Or does he only work on the Strategic Plan now?

  • makeitgoaway

    With the turnaround in days, CST results can become part of an assessment, and can be used as part of a student’s grade, thus making this a high stakes test for the students, not just for the teachers and administrators. In addition, it can be used for placement purposes in programming classes for the coming year. Don’t tank the CSTs if you want an Honors or AP class. Watch test scores go up from atudents who now know that it matters. Please don’t tell me all students try their best because they don’t.

  • Nextset

    Information is power. But understand, these test evaluate the students and not the teachers.

    They are proxies for IQ tests.

  • Yet another Oakland teacher

    Maybe, just maybe, the state will move the testing window to the end of the school year so we actually have the whole school year to help the kids master the standards, rather than signalling the end of the school year the first week of May. Our current window cuts off 20-25 days of instruction that are left after testing, before the end of school.

  • jmc

    well said Yet Another Oakland Teacher!

  • AC Mom

    Speaking as a parent, I appreciate getting this data much sooner. If my child needed help in a certain area, I would use the time over the summer to bring him up to speed for the next school year. I understand the concerns expressed by teachers, but I have always been frustrated by the amount of time that it takes to get this information. When I was a child back in the 80′s, I was tested 3 x a year and the results were received within a month…I still remember the old dot matrix print outs.

    BTW, good point Livegreen!

  • Catherine

    I like that the test results will come out sooner. I think it will help reduce the grade inflation that I see – particularly at the middle school level. A student cannot earn an A or a B, thus be on the honor roll when they have the results that show the student working at below basic as is the case with out neighbor. She had a 3.75 GPA from Edna Brewer and tested far below basic in science, and below basic in math and English.

    She went on to high school and found out that the test results were an accurate picture of her skill level and work habits than the extremely over-inflated grades.

    Because she went to a charter school she had two hours of free tutoring after school with a credentialed teacher. It has taken her six weeks of summer school and nearly six months of the school year to catch up to the knowledge and experience she should have had at the end of eighth grade. I sincerely hope the test scores are factored in to grade as it will help everyone in contact with the student have an accurate picture rather than an inflated one.

  • Cranky Teacher

    The bigger deal is the switch to Common Core standards — most teachers feel they are better (deeper, skills based, thinking based) than the current state standards.

  • Nextset

    The fact that the (verbal/math etc) tests are used to evaluate progress and mastery of subjects doesn’t change the nature of them as IQ tests.

    Time pressure testing is a measure of brain processing speed. When you are testing a cohort who have had similar classroom exposure the (basic testing) results will line up on the IQ distribution.

    I have problems with the notion that a teacher is to be punished because the chillun in her particular classroom do so much worse that say the kiddies over at Piedmont Unified who are otherwise claimed to be similar – similar age and similar classes.

    I support the testing. I really support that the children and their families are to be confronted with the data of how their child scores, ranks in his school, and ranks against his age group generally in the city, county, state or nationally. Realism is to be encouraged.

    However there are real limits as to how much we are to browbeat people over how they score. We also need to get them to understand what these scores mean for vocational aptitude.

    You are not going to be a Dr or Lawyer when your scoring stays below certain levels. Improve the scoring or change your talk of what you are going to do for a living. Likewise college aspirations. By 11th grade or before, the kiddies need to be quite aware of the basic scoring of the freshman class of their target schools – knowing where they fit in and where they do not fit in. You can go for a reach, just understand what you are doing.

    Reality is to be encouraged. It is dangerously missing in the chillun I see. They are trained to avoid it by their black churches and their families. The successful candidates are the realists who do prepare themselves to get what they want.

  • Katy Murphy

    Speaking of standardized tests and technology, here’s a link to a webinar on computer adaptive testing. It’s from the Olympia, Wash.-based Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which was awarded a federal grant to develop tests for the new common core content standards.

    http://www.smarterbalanced.org/events/computer-adaptive-testing-presentation/