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Teachers will adapt previous tests to evaluate students’ performance

By Bill Short

Millington Schools logoIn the aftermath of TNReady’s online “crash” early this year, Millington schoolteachers will adapt previously used tests to evaluate students’ academic strengths and weaknesses.
While noting that “testing issues” recurred last week, Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, said the word that keeps coming to his mind is “fiasco.”
He said Measurement Inc., the testing vendor that the Tennessee Department of Education contracted with, continued to have “delays” in supplying test materials to school districts throughout the state.
At the “last minute,” he said, the state education commissioner decided to “suspend” testing for students in grades 3-8, but continue with high school testing and with SAT 10, a Standard Achievement Test for first- and second-graders.
Roper said that will have an impact, not only on the testing itself, but also on teacher evaluations and district accountability.
“We’ve put information out on our district and school Web sites,” he noted. “We’ve sent information home by each one of our students to try to explain that issue.”
Roper made the comments Monday night during the Millington School Board’s regular monthly meeting.
He noted that the teachers have “worked around” this issue in a “very professional way.” But he said the administration had to determine what would be in the best interest of the students, based on what will be available from the state.
“We were told that, if we did go ahead and test in grades 3-8, we would not receive any kind of detailed score reports back,” he recalled. “It would just be raw scores that would not give us much useful information about strengths, weaknesses and academic progress.”
Roper said the teachers are attempting to adapt tests that were previously in place, so the administration can have some “post-testing” for students.
Georgia Dawson, supervisor of Instructional Services for the school system, said it decided late last summer to purchase and use a program called Amplify. She noted that the administration did not think the teachers and students would “get anything of value” from the TCAP test.
Because those two tests cover a separate group of standards, Dawson said the teachers were asked to determine what they could use to give them some feedback regarding “where the students are” at the end of the academic year.
“That’s what we’ve been working on,” she noted. “We’re giving the first and second grades SAT 10 this week. And we told teachers to see what we can do that would give them some feedback on this.”
In response to a question by board Vice Chairman Greg Ritter, Dawson said the administration is examining the Amplify program for students in grades 3-8. Roper said that would be the school system’s “alternative” to TNReady for those grade levels.
Dawson said the information that the teachers will attempt to gain from using the Amplify program will “in no way” affect their evaluation. It will simply be used for their own feedback regarding the students’ progress.
Roper said the results from the Amplify program will basically reflect the “quality” of the responses.
“We won’t have any kind of scaled scores that we’ll be trying to use,” he concluded. “This will tell us what the students are doing well and not doing as well. And then, it will allow for appropriate intervention as a follow-up.”

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May 2016
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