Wednesday, February 4, 2009

SB 1 proposes major state testing changes

Senate Bill 1, filed yesterday, proposes to replace CATS, primarily with norm-referenced tests augmented by additional multiple-choice questions. Writing would continue to include on-demand, multiple choice, and portfolio work. Arts & humanities and practical/vocational would no longer be tested, but districts would report on the quality of school programs.

As a more complete overview, you can download a two-page chart of the bill’s provisions, including the schedule, provisions for formative testing, and provisions for added help for students with weaknesses, here. You can download the whole bill by going here and clicking where it says SB 1 (BR 803).

I have three concerns after my first study of this new bill. I am worried about:
  • Abandoning open-response questions. Open-response is a stronger way to measure the more demanding “depth of knowledge” elements of the core content and the better way to check how well students can apply what they have learned.
  • Trying to take a test designed for norm-referenced scoring and use it for criterion-referenced reporting of whether student meet standards—especially when the goal is for all students to be able to succeed.
  • Understanding how portfolios will be used, because I think they will be excluded from accountability but I can’t find a place in the bill where that is spelled out.

1 comment:

  1. Susan - I share your concerns and also have a concern about testing children in kindergarten and first and second grades. The bill clearly says this is not to be included in accountability - a good thing. And teachers do need to know what students have learned and what they need to learn to guide instruction, but is this the best way to collect that information about young children?


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