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ABCUSD Superintendents Message: New Changes in Assessment and Accountability

By Dr. Mary Sieu

California is in the midst of a fundamental remaking of its assessment and accountability system that has been in place for 15 years. The changes are driven by several significant reform efforts at the State level. They include the following:

•Common Core State Standards adopted by the State Board of Education in August 2010 and the Next Generation Science Standards adopted in September 2013;

•The dramatic reform of California’s school finance system adopted in 2013;

•A new statewide accountability system to replace the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program and reform the Academic Performance Index (API).

In ABC Unified School District, the first administration of the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) for students in grades 3rd-8th and 11th will occur during the window period of April 20-June 12, 2015. The Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments are computer based English language arts/literacy (ELA) and Mathematics tests.  These assessments will measure students’ knowledge of the ELA and Math standards, critical thinking, analytical writing and problem solving skills.

These new tests are significantly different from the previous state assessments known as the California Standards Test under the STAR system. As a result, the scores from the old STAR and the new CAASPP test cannot be compared.  The scores from this year’s test will be used to establish baseline data to measure the growth students make over time. If there is a significant change in the student’s score, it does not mean that the student learned less or that schools are not academically performing. As students experience multiple years of instruction related to the new standards and develop the technological skills used during the test, the results will show improvement over time.

Parent resources are available to help: “Parents Backpack Guide to Common Core Standards” (www.engageny.org/parent-and-family-resources), and “Teaching is the Core” (www.engageny.org/resources/teaching-is-the-core). More information is also available on our District’s website.

The parents and schools will receive a report of the students’ performance on the Smarter Balanced assessments. However, the State Board of Education has suspended using the results this year for the API. Schools will not be given an API score or ranking in 2015. The State is moving away from a single score, which has been at the heart of the state’s accountability system to one that incorporates multiple measures that assess “deeper learning” and readiness for college and career success. The State Board of Education will create guidelines or “rubrics” for determining how schools are doing in the priority areas identified in the Local Control Accountability Plan. A revised API will be released in 2016 using a new accountability system. Full implementation of the new system will be a long term process as different elements of the system will be rolled out at different times during the next several years.

This is a key year for implementation of the new testing and accountability system in ABC and throughout the State. However, it’s important to recognize that it will take several years before a complete accountability system will be fully in place. We ask the public to be aware of these changes and access the resources available to learn more about these new directions.

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