California Educator

April 2015

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T H I S I S T H E Y E A R educators are redefining testing and account- ability. On the cusp of the new Smarter Balanced testing, CTA's State Council voted at its January meeting on a set of six recom- mendations designed to help guide the State Board of Education (SBE) in upcoming decisions about assessment and testing. "The goal of CTA's recommendations is that assessments are used to improve student learning and instruction, not as a comparison or ranking tool," says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. "We're moving to multiple measures of student learning that are decided at the local level — and that should be the focus of federal and state tests and improvement efforts." The recommendations from State Council were presented to the SBE at its March meeting, and the board's final decisions closely mirrored the State Council recommendations (see chart). At that meeting, the SBE voted to postpone creating a new Aca- demic Performance Index for another year, which means we get a reprieve from scores being used for high-stakes accountability purposes until 2018. And better than just a reprieve, the SBE also voted to include multiple measures in whatever form the new API takes, and affirmed that those decisions should be made locally. It means that in accordance with the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control Accountability Plans, "we are moving beyond test scores and are returning decisions about local schools to local communities. We will be able to develop a more meaningful assessment of how our schools are impacting students," Vogel says. This has the potential to be a major shift in the long-standing abuse of and overreliance on test scores. Now, this year, state test scores will be shared first with teachers and then with parents. "That gives us an opportunity to talk about what those scores mean and what they don't mean, not only with parents but with the rest of the public," Vogel says. "As educators and students adjust to the new Smarter Balanced tests, including the technology, we need to remind everyone that this is a transition period. Textbooks and other materials aren't Part of an ongoing series CTA actions put learning over testing Educators are redefining testing and accountability. Now what? by Cynthia Menzel Delay adopting the Academic Performance Index (API) for one year. SB 1458 altered the API, changing criteria by which schools are held accountable. Scheduled to take effect in 2016, these changes cannot be implemented until one year after adoption by the State Board of Education (SBE). Now in the second year of the new standards, educators are working without textbooks that have been aligned and the resources they need. Districts across the state are at different stages of implementing CCSS and preparedness to administer the statewide assessments. Limit the weights of statewide assessments in the API. Weightings and indicators should be locally determined with teacher participation. Determine local indicators for the Academic Performance Index (API). The selection and use of accountability indicators should be based on the needs and growth of student learning over time, should indicate what local educators say is important, and should ensure API elements are aligned to and support Local Control Accountability Plan priorities. The primary purpose of testing here is to support learning, not to impose high- stakes consequences. Eliminate decile rankings. Using decile rankings as a metric to understand the relative performance of schools is misleading. While AB 484 sunsets the decile rankings, the SBE will set state performance goals and decide how to report and monitor school performance at the statewide level. Change SBAC performance recommendations (cut scores). The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) cut scores are not aligned with California standards, and will therefore misrepresent student achievement. Eliminate the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). The exam is not aligned to current standards and has outlived its usefulness in the state accountability system. Recommendation CTA assessment and testing recommendations to the State Board of Education Assessment Learning 44

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