We all cringe a little when the idea of testing comes up. In short, it’s no one’s favorite activity. From pop quizzes to curriculum exams to state testing, tests will always factor into education. It’s one of the ways educators can gauge what students are learning, students and parents can assess growth, and districts can see how their students are performing.
As we head into the spring, we are rapidly approaching an important testing cycle: state standardized testing.
New Accountability and Transparency in State Testing
This year the State of California Department of Education launched a new accountability system called the California Dashboard. For families, students, and educators, this is an exciting time. The new dashboard increases transparency around how schools are measuring up. The California Dashboard replaces the outdated Academic Performance Index with a more comprehensive analysis across multiple subjects. In short, the view of school performance got more accurate.
Using the New Information to Strengthen Education
At CUSD, we are excited to use the California Dashboard to continue to provide the best education possible. First, we want to share it with parents and the community to continue our efforts at creating transparency in the district. Second, we use the data locally to assess instruction, evaluate areas of strength, and identify areas needing support. Lastly, we use some of the information to assess the best placement for students.
We want parents to know that this information is very important for us to assess where our students are and how to better reach their needs. While important, it’s nothing to worry about. We don’t, for example, decide which grade students will be in based on the results.
Continuing Testing and Piloting a New Test
As part of the State of California Department of Education initiative to create more accurate results, they rolled out a new test called the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This system tests in English / Language Arts and Mathematics.
This year they are piloting a new California Science test, based on the new standards for science. By participating in the pilot, educators can evaluate the new test and see where students are currently. Additionally, this preview gives teachers the ability to see how the state is assessing the new standard.
Students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take the English / Language Arts and Mathematics. Grades 3-8 and 12 will take the new California Science pilot test. Testing will take place from mid-April through May.
Wellness During the Testing Season
If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times; a good night sleep and breakfast help create a productive day. While we all strive for eight hours of sleep and hope to enjoy a healthy breakfast, we all know that some days are better than others.
As a district, we would like to encourage students and their families to focus on wellness during the testing season. We want students to do their best, showcasing how hard they’ve worked during the year. This way, the test results give our educators the best information to help improve education across the district.