The Alabama State Department of Education is developing what State Superintendent Tommy Bice calls a more balanced assessment and accountability system “unique to Alabama” that would replace the current “autopsy report” that makes up the current measures of No Child Left Behind.
Presented at a recent State Board of Education work session by several members of the State Board of Education’s appointed Assessment and Accountability Task Force, the proposal builds on the board’s PLAN 2020 to ensure that every child graduates and is a prepared graduate. A prepared graduate possesses core content knowledge and skills and is able to apply that knowledge in real world applications.
The proposed assessment system will help monitor and guide each students’ trajectory toward graduation and includes:
- Universal Screeners and developmentally appropriate assessments for K-2 grades to ensure grade level reading by third grade
- Formative benchmarks and interim assessment repository for grades 3-12 to help teachers monitor and adjust instruction throughout the year
- Career interest/aptitude assessments for grades 6-12
- Project-based assessments to show not just what students know, but what students can do
- Summative assessments for grades 3-12, including the ACT tests in grades 8, 10, and 11
“Having knowledge to pass the test is worth little to the student, unless they can use that knowledge in practical ways. We want a purposeful assessment system that goes well beyond just passing a test,” said Bice.
The task force is made up of educators, parents, and other educational leaders. Members provided the board real examples of implementing project-based learning with “rich, multi-level evaluations,” which they believe would provide more significant information on student achievement.
Proposed accountability plan components include; measures of student achievement, growth in achievement, closing gaps, and college and career readiness.
The deadline for the State Board of Education to approve a new assessment and accountability program is aligned with the current AYP* deadline of June 20th, (reference to the *Adequate Yearly Progress mandate of NCLB). “We have a short time frame and a one-year opportunity to put something in place,” said Bice.
Bice has also proposed to the U.S. Department of Education that Alabama freeze its Annual Measureable Objectives (AMOs) under NCLB for one year as it developed a plan to apply for a waiver from NCLB requirements.