Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SB 1 Update: Moving toward new assessments [CORRECTED]

2009's Senate Bill 1 called for a new assessment system to reflect our new standards.  Yesterday's post provided an update on the standards element, and here's where we stand on the assessment element.

Testing companies have submitted bids to provide Kentucky with a testing system that includes multiple-choice, short-answer, extended-response, and writing-prompt items in five subjects.  The Department will be choosing one or more vendors soon, so that the assessments can begin in the next school year.

Some important innovations will be:
  • Blended assessments for grades 3 through 8, meaning that students receive both a norm-referenced score comparing them to a sample group and a criterion-referenced score relating to a fixed-standard of what they should know and be able to do.
  • End-of-course assessments in high school, gauging students' understanding as they finish taking English II, Algebra II, Biology, and U.S. History.  Those tests will be given when students finish the course, which could happen any time during the high school years.
  • A new writing test for grades 4 and 6 that includes attention to writing mechanics as well as requiring students to produce their own timed writing pieces.
Here's a chart of how each grade will be tested in the years ahead [now showing a corrected edition, repairing an error in the original version of this post]:


    1. Has the state school board approved this and it is now official?

    2. Senate Bill 1 gave the Kentucky Board of Education a choice about whether high school testing would be end-of-course or more like the elementary and middle school tests--and KBE voted for end-of-course.

      SB 1 also gave KBE a choice about which elementary grade and which middle school grade would take the science, social studies, and writing tests. I don't know whether KBE voted on this distribution or just heard about it and didn't have concerns. However, now that KDE has collected bids on testing organized this way, it would be very hard for KBE to decide that, say, they wanted to swap science and social studies grades.

      Senate Bill 1 itself settled the other issues. For instance, it said reading and math must be tested in grades 3-8, and writing must have both prompts and a test of mechanics at each level.

      I've laid all that out so I can get to the specific answer on "official." I think the right answer is that yes, this is really settled and really how testing is going to work starting next year.

    3. Thank you for the thorough response.

      As a fourth grade teacher, this new configuration has immediate impact on me because of the on demand and multiple choice in writing moving from fifth to fourth grade. This impacts what we teach and how we teach it, i.e. now fourth graders will have to be ready in the spring to write rather than maturing all the way through fifth grade.

      A few years back, portfolios and on demand were in fourth grade, and the state decided that fifth graders were better suited in taking the on demand because they were exiting elementary school, and thus had the maximum opportunity for writing instruction. Fourth and sixth don't seem (to me anyway) good years for testing writing simply because of lack of maturity. Sixth graders are just new to middle school and have many adjustments in instruction and expectations to adapt to. I'm just wondering what the school board's justification and/or explanation is for this format.

    4. I don't know what their reasoning was. I've been guessing (no where near as good as knowing) that they wanted to test writing two years and four years before the eighth grade Explore test.

    5. That makes sense. Thank you for posting such useful information. I am a daily reader.

    6. On the KDE website, the principal webcast powerpoint shows fourth grade being tested in editing for writing and fifth grade being tested on the on-demand prompt.

    7. On the KDE website, the principal webcast powerpoint shows editing tested at fourth grade and the on-demand prompt being tested at fifth grade.

    8. @ Anon,

      I'm now confused, but it's going to help me learn. In the Department's RFP, I've been working from the chart that shows "Possible Types of Items by Session." It definitely shows on-demand prompts for grades 4 and 6. But there's another chart two pages earlier that shows on-demand in grades 5 and 6. I'll go to work on figuring out what's really happening, and report back with a new blog post.

      P.S. I have always wanted commenters who would raise issues for me to worry about. I'm frustrated about not having it all clear, but really happy to have you all helping me see what needs work!

    9. Susan, I have looked on KDE for "RFP" and for "Possible Types of Items by Session" and cannot find the resource you're quoting. I'm sure it's because the KDE website is not exactly user friendly. Can you help me locate your source of information?


    Updates and data on Kentucky education!