ROCKVILLE- Representatives from the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs said at a board of education committee meeting Monday they may have a new plan for exams. Erick Lang, associate superintendent of the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs said findings from recent focus groups and surveys has led the office in that direction and Christopher S. Barclay, chairman of the committee, said the presentation is a practice run before Lang and his colleagues give their […]
ROCKVILLE- Representatives from the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs said at a board of education committee meeting Monday they may have a new plan for exams.
Erick Lang, associate superintendent of the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs said findings from recent focus groups and surveys has led the office in that direction and Christopher S. Barclay, chairman of the committee, said the presentation is a practice run before Lang and his colleagues give their presentation at the board of education meeting July 14.
“The spirit of today is to help you get prepared for presentation before full board,” Barclay said to Lang during the meeting.
Lang said the goal of developing an assessment plan for kindergarten through 12th grade is to increase education time and lessen the weight and pressure of exams on students while retaining the data that is gathered from test scores.
The office’s central question is “How can we increase instructional time, alleviate the testing burden and continue to gather data to help us recognize and respond to the student, teacher, school and district needs?”
In the presentation, Lang said assessment is part of instruction and that the two-week periods for final exams and preparation should not have to take up so much instruction time.
Lang said the office’s presentation was a combination of review and new information and thata majority of the new information had to do with secondary education.
Niki Hazel, director of the Elementary Integrated Curriculum Team for the county, listed the assessments that are required for elementary school: the kindergarten readiness assessment, Maryland School Assessment testing for fifth-grade science, math for kindergarten through fifth grades, measures of academic progress for kindergarten through fifth grade, college and career
readiness assessments, and assessments for primary reading and the monitoring of instructional reading levels.
Hazel stated the changes that might be implemented in time for the 2015-2016 school year and later for the 2016-2017 school year.
For elementary school, Hazel said the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs is considering the following changes for the 2016-2017 school year: shortening assessments at the primary level, giving the kindergarten readiness assessment (which was started last school year) later in the fall, monitoring instructional reading levels, reinstating ongoing formative assessment and giving the Measure of Academic Progress assessment only in the spring for kindergarten.
For the 2016-2017 school year, the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs said eliminating MAP testing altogether and implementing college and career readiness diagnostics are both under consideration.
The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a group that developed state standards of more challenging assessment for both mathematics and English. Teachers in Montgomery County this year gave PARCC tests for the firsttime.
Students took two rounds of PARCC assessments. Each required all classes to be put on hold for about two weeks, Dana Tofig, a spokesperson for MCPS, said.
Doug Prouty, president of the Montgomery County Education Association, said teachers had some concerns about PARCC testing, including procedures that were difficult to understand and a delay in feedback for teachers.
“Teachers felt that the PARCC assessment took away too much instructional time,” Prouty said in an email. “The process and protocols for the testing were also confusing and changed leading up to the testadministration. The factthatthe results will not be known until the fall made teachers feel that it would not be a valuable tool for informing instruction.”
Tofig said that after schools have to take time out of classes to administer state testing, a question arises as to whether or not taking more of the school year for final exams is necessary.
During the first week of June, MCPS distributed surveys with four options for changing final exams,Prouty said.
The Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs repeated the four options for the Strategic Planning Committee at Monday’s meeting. Maria Tarasuk, acting supervisor of the Instructional Support Coordination Team,listed the options and presented positive aspects of the options and concerns about the options.
Option A applies to middle school students. In this option, teachers will give marking period or unit assessments over one ortwo class periods instead of two-hour cumulative exams for non-high school-level courses.
Under option B, no cumulative semester exams requiring two hours will be given. One variation would be to eliminate final exams for courses that have state testing. A second variation would be to have semester one final exams but not for semester two.
Option C would keep semester exams but still add back class instruction time by distributing exams over multiple class periods.
Assessments interspersed throughout the semester would replace semester examinations but would be centrally collected,under option D.
The group covered options A and D in greater depth. Tarasuk said the reason for this was that that they seemed to rise above the other two, Tarasuk said.
“The feedback as been very mixed, as it often is when we have been talking to a variety of different groups,” Tarasuk said. “Butthere have been some themes that have been emerging.”
Lang said the office is covering options A and D specifically because of the potential for added time in the classroom, which Tarasuk said was a topic of interest in feedback and focus groups.
“We decided to play these [options]out a little bit more inthe interest of our discussion,” Lang said. “And again, the notion of reducing the impact on instruction and increasing instructional time has really come through in the feedback that we’ve been hearing. And so, the idea that if you eliminated exams in the way that we have traditionally implemented them, in January, you would get these –you would potentially get these two weeks of additional instructional time, before IB tests, AP tests, um, PARCC assessments in May, and that maybe an accommodation since PARCC is moving later could really benefit students in terms of that additional instructional time before those assessments.”
The office said feedback taken into account came from focus groups such as principals, teachers and students from high schools and middle schools in the county and from the Office of School Support and Improvement, Office of Special Education and Student Services and the chief technology officer.
Lang said the surveys are still being reviewed.
Tofig said, “The results of the survey have not been published and are still being compiled.”
The Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs is looking at the following changes under options A and D for the 2015-2016 school year: eliminating two-hour exams for middle school classes while high school credit courses follow the high school model and, for high school courses, eliminating two-hour final exams for externally assessed courses during the second semester while retaining semester one final exams.
For high school courses duringthe 2016-2017 school year, the office is looking at replacing two-hour final exams for both semesters with centrally developed assessments. Officials are considering administering those assessments in class throughoutthe semester and collecting them during marking periods. High school courses offered in middle school would follow the high school model. Also, with regard to middle school courses, the office is considering having MAP testing eliminated and implementing PARCC diagnostics.