Thursday, February 7, 2013

A need to dig deeper . . .

Tomorrow there will be a public hearing on HB 1450, the bill that Superintendent Dorn has endorsed to reduce the number of assessments necessary to meet graduation requirements.  Current legislation will require students to meet standard on five assessments; reading, writing, biology, algebra, and biology.  HB 1450 will reduce that to three including a combined reading/writing, biology and one math assessment.  Below is the announcement from OSPI about tomorrow's hearing.

Dorn to Testify on Assessment Reform Bill
House Bill 1450 would drop number of exams needed for graduation to three

I first posted about this in December when Superintendent Dorn said that it would be an algebra assessment.  In the announcement today it said a math assessment.

The bill would combine the reading and writing tests into a single English Language Arts test, and it would eliminate one of the math tests, reducing the required tests to three.

Eliminating one math assessment is a big deal, but so is knowing if it is algebra or geometry.  So, I went to the Bill Digest and found that it does not say what the specific math requirement will be, but I learned about two other provisions in the bill that don't appear in the headlines and were not part of the December Seattle Times Op-Ed where I first learned about the proposal.

HB 1450 - DIGEST
Declares an intent to: (1) Begin administering the college-ready and career-ready assessments that are being developed to measure the common core state standards in the 2014-2015 school year;
(2) Combine the current reading and writing assessments into English language arts assessments;
(3) Reduce the number of different assessments that will be required for students to graduate beginning with the class of 2015; and
(4) Decentralize the scoring of the collections of evidence.

Those highlighted were not new to me, but this is the first time I have seen them in a bill and they have big consequences for our system.  One means we would officially begin administering the Common Core Assessments in the 2014-15 school year.  Four means that the responsibility for collecting and scoring collections of evidence (alternative assessment method) would shift from OSPI and the ESD to the local district.  Currently we are given $400 to support the collection of evidence that are submitted to the ESD for scoring.  If the HB 1450 were to be enacted scoring would become our responsibility with no revenue for the added responsibility.

Now, back to math.  I went to the House Summary of the bill for further information and found that the math assessment would be for algebra.  At he same time I learned that future graduation requirements can be met with state assessment or Common Core assessments.

Brief Summary of Bill
  • ŸŸChanges the statewide assessment system from measuring student performance in reading and writing to measuring performance in English Language Arts (ELA).
  • Ends the Geometry end-of-course test (EOC) after the 2012-13 school year.
  • Provides that, beginning with the graduating class of 2015, students may meet the high school graduation standard using an ELA exit exam or a College and Career Readiness (CCR) assessment in ELA.
  • Provides that students beginning with the class of 2015 may use results from the Algebra I EOC or a CCR assessment in mathematics for graduation purposes.
  • Directs the Washington Student Achievement Council to convene a workgroup to examine how a CCR assessment might be used for higher education decisions.
  • Changes the Collection of Evidence alternative assessment from being scored by a state-level panel to being scored at the district level.
You can learn more about this same topic in this Education Week article from today.  In the article I learned that we are the only state that requires five assessments for graduation while in 26 states there are no tests for graduation.  I also learned that WEA President Lindquist would like to go further and call a moratorium on high-stakes testing.

Trying to follow the trail of education legislation in Olympia means digging beyond headlines and newspaper summaries of the bill.  I support the provisions of 1450 that change the number of assessments for graduation purposes, but do not want our system to assume responsibility for collecting and scoring the collection of evidence  portfolios estimated at $400 per student.  This would simply be passing the costs from the state to the districts.  Following this trail is complex and time consuming, but very important.

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