Board approves school testing schedule with fewer hours
The School Board approved a testing schedule with fewer hours for the students of Lee County.
During its Tuesday afternoon meeting, the board approved the state assessment district progress monitoring testing schedule for the 2015-2016 school year, which had an estimated annual cost of $548,253.48.
“Because of some of the changes we did this afternoon, the actual cost to the district for testing will be reduced significantly. The actual cost, because we are not supporting the software that does the progress monitoring, would reduce it by a little over $508,000, the approximate cost would be just to support the state required testing, which would be an approximate cost of $28,000,” Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said.
Board Member Jeanne Dozier said she had her first meeting with Dr. Adkins last Friday and the testing assessment was at the top of her list.
“He was very receptive,” she said. “This is the first time in probably the last four years that I have asked a superintendent for assistance and it was taken care of almost like that (as she snapped her fingers.)”
Adkins said they went back and looked at the actual state assessment district progress monitoring schedule because they really wanted to look at ways to reduce testing due to hearing from parents, teachers that the testing is simply too much.
“We opened this up and really looked at every single opportunity we could take something out of this particular schedule,” he said.
Adkins said what is in the current schedule today simply recognizes the state required assessments, as well as progress monitoring. He said they are required to progress monitor for students that are not meeting standards levels one, two and three but in order to do that principals and teachers will create a plan and tools to use for progress monitoring in that school.
“I came from a site based decision school where the administration and teachers came together and worked on solutions that were in the best interest of students. It was literally a school based decision and that is how we find most successful decisions in the schoolhouse are made with professionals coming together with the concerns of their students and making recommendations,” Adkins said. “That is what we are supporting here with this particular schedule.”
An example in testing time reduction was given for kindergarten students. Adkins said they started off with 350 minutes of testing and decreased it by taking 290 minutes off the schedule.
“What this document represents is actually what we are required to do and turn in at the state level. But then, when it comes to how do we access and diagnose students locally, that is a local decision that is made at the school. It is a decision we feel should involve teachers and administrators in making the determination in what best meets the needs of our students,” he said.
Adkins said they think the schedule is down to the bare minimum.
“This issue has always been one in particular of interest to me,” he said. “I haven’t crossed this path in my other roles other than working with teachers as part of working with our labor association. As a parent and former teacher and administrator, some of the frustration dealing with state testing I have dealt with first hand. This issue is near and dear to my heart.”
Board Chairman Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan said she continues to be concerned about a couple of things. She said they need to address parent input, as well as different issues at different levels requiring different solutions.
“I think we are making decisions without enough quantitative input,” Morgan said. “I am also concerned that we are going to complete local control of progress monitoring. We have lost the ability of the district to assess how we are doing as a district because we have no ability to compare demographic roots because we are using different tools in different schools. That is not how to best allocate resources district wide.”