Friday, April 9, 2010

Assessment Plans for Kentucky

Senate Bill 1 requires development of new standards in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies by December 2010. As of today, we have been able to partner with 48 other states to develop internationally benchmarked standards in language arts and mathematics.

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the standards, and work begins on April 12 to unpack the standards and begin to translate them into teacher-friendly tools that should help guarantee a strong curriculum in every classroom in Kentucky. We also are in conversation with national leaders who are working on science standards; however, we do not anticipate those standards being completed until 2012. Due to the complicated nature of social studies standards, we are continuing to explore possible partnerships with other states.

Our attention now turns to development of summative and formative assessments based on the Common Core Academic Standards. The federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funds provided $350 million for this work. This week, the U.S. Department of Education released guidelines for states who are interested in applying for the funds. There are two categories of funding.

Category 1 addresses states who want to develop assessments in language arts and mathematics for grades 3-8 and high school (one assessment). States may apply for up to $160 million. The guidelines require a minimum of 15 states for a consortium, with five states serving as governing states. States also may work as design states and/or partnering states. In joining a consortium, states agree to implement the assessments, and the assessments would meet all requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Currently, there are two excellent consortia, and Kentucky is a member of both. However, we may only belong to one consortium, and we have to make a decision on membership within the next few weeks. Kentucky teachers would be heavily involved over the next few years in the development of assessment items and field testing the items from other states, regardless of which consortium we join.

The second category for funding is for development of high school course assessments. Again, Kentucky is well-positioned for this work. The Kentucky Board of Education has provided direction for end-of-course assessments. Senate Bill 1 provided end-of-course assessments as an option. Funding from the RTTT grants is up to $30 million. Through our partnership with the National Center on Education and the Economy, we will apply for these funds to assist in the adaption of existing international assessments to meet requirements of the grant.

Based on the guidelines, we believe that Kentucky will be a member of a funded consortium for both grants. However, we will encounter difficulties with Senate Bill 1 deadlines. We are scheduled to have an assessment ready by spring 2012. Under the funding guidelines, the new NCLB common core assessments would not be ready until the 2014-15 school year. The high school end-of-course assessments could be ready as soon as 2012.

Once the General Assembly session ends, we will meet with key legislators and the Interim Joint Committee on Education to seek guidance on the interim period. We hope to have clarity on this issue by the June-July state conferences. So … the good news is that the cost of development should be provided by the Race to the Top funding. The bad news is that the Senate Bill 1 deadlines may be a concern.

Our goal for state assessments is to provide formative assessment items throughout the year that are open-response, problem-solving and higher-order thinking types of assessment. We will provide standard scoring rubrics or allow school districts to develop and validate their own assessments. The summative assessments will be primarily multiple choice and constructed response. We are hoping to have a plan to score regionally and/or locally and provide feedback on assessments in a much shorter period than current practice. Reaching this goal will depend on our ability to gain funding for deployment. We have great leadership at KDE with the Office of Assessment and Accountability’s Associate Commissioner Ken Draut and the assessment team. Couple that with the terrific leadership of the district assessment coordinators, and Kentucky is in great shape for the future.

1 comment:

  1. "begin to translate them into teacher-friendly tools" ... don't forget about involving students in this process! If these are standards FOR learning, why are we not translating them into learner-friendly tools? Creating more teacher tools, curriculum binders (hard copy or online) and maps will "guarantee a strong curriculum in every classroom in Kentucky" but I'm not so sure it will help facilitate LEARNING?

    Teacher tools create a system of COMPLIANCE: compliant teachers who are implementing curricula and assessments and compliant students who perform more or less on teacher-made (or state mandated) assessments.

    If we want to see change in our schools, we need to shift the focus to MOTIVATION. Daniel Pink outlines in his book "Drive" the three elements of true motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. How will the new Standards and the accompanying teacher tools address those? Involving students in the learning process by showing them the road map and/or (dare I say) giving them the autonomy to modify the road map for THEIR learning will begin to shift the focus from teacher to learner.

    Creating student-centered classrooms start with creating materials that are student friendly. That has to include curriculum documents and formative assessments.