Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SCOBES board exams: future testing and future high schools?

The State Consortium On Board Examination Systems (SCOBES) is planning working on high school assessments of English, math, science, history and the arts.   Check out a new, clear one-page summary of the SCOBES proposal for federal funding here, similar to the ones on PARCC and Smarter/Balanced that I blogged in July.

Board exams are a strategy for transforming our high schools.   The core idea is that when students succeed on those tests, usually after tenth grade, they will be ready to "move on" by taking one of five paths:
  • A community college transfer program designed to start them toward a four year degree at an open enrollment university.
  • A community or technical college certificate or degree program.
  • High school work preparing for a selective college or university.
  • High school work preparing specifically for STEM work at a selective college or university (with STEM meaning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
  • A high school career or technical program with industry certification.
A key insight from the summary:
SCOBES will not develop new assessments, but will review, select and certify a set of existing rigorous Board Examination System providers that member states and high schools can offer to their students. To be eligible, providers must align their systems to the Common Core State Standards.
Because multiple systems will be considered, there will not be a single answer to questions about types of tasks, length of tests, and schedule for testing, but the summary does specify that "most" possible providers "rely heavily on essays and constructed-response questions and some also include coursework and assigned projects" and that "scoring is external, done either by machine or by hired, trained teachers."

Kentucky is a SCOBES member, and this major shift in direction is clearly an approach Kentucky will consider.  It is also a major bid to transform high schools, making the first half about demonstrating competency for the later options, moving a substantial group of students out of high school when that competency is shown, and asking the remaining students to choose a sharply defined direction for their remaining work.

Finally, though these board exams are not billed as "graduation exams," the summary does not show any   paths forward for students who do not succeed on the tests.  For those whose first board exam scores are below the needed level, is the plan to offer them added learning opportunities in preparation to retest?

1 comment:

  1. Good morning, Cindy! I know you're about to comment on this one. Maynard, Mel, and others, please do bring it on!


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