I believe our schools must return to a focus on teaching and learning, not just testing and measuring. Assessments/tests are useful tools that give educators an opportunity to use data to improve instructional practices and to recognize and address gaps in learning.
As Superintendent I will work in partnership with the Smarter Balanced Consortium and School Districts to ensure our tests:
- Are being delivered in a format and on a platform that works for all students. After speaking with hundreds of teachers, I am convinced that the testing platform at certain grade levels has become a distraction for students. I believe now is the time to gather feedback formally from the field and provide input to the consortium in order to advocate for a tool that best meets the needs of students. This feedback should include guidance about how to more effectively accommodate students with IEPs, 504 Plans and those who are emerging English speakers.
- Do not monopolize the learning time of teachers and students throughout the school year. Although only the SBA is required by federal mandate, many districts have added a number of interim tests. OSPI must provide guidance about the effective use of interim assessments.
- Provide results that are easy-to-understand for educators, students, and families.
- Provide data-driven information for teachers regarding classroom standards that need further instruction. Educators need quick snapshots of how their students are preforming. Results should clearly indicate where students need extra support and when they are able to move ahead.
- Results are returned quickly so that instruction can be adapted in a timely manner to address the needs of students.
As Superintendent I will:
- Use the bully pulpit to return the focus of dialogue about school to teaching and learning.
- Hold off on submission of our Every Student Succeeds Act accountability plan to ensure the voices of critical stakeholder groups have been heard, especially with regard to the role of assessment.
- Advocate with the federal government on behalf of all students who qualify for ELL to ensure they are given enough time to develop the skills necessary for academic success. As a former ELL teacher, I believe students in ELL programs should have two years of support in language development prior to being assessed by the state assessment.
- Provide technical assistance to schools regarding assessment best practices - preparing students on technology, managing technology with large numbers of students, accommodating student needs, organizing the testing experience to ensure efficient use of time, and knowing what to do with results to ensure we effectively utilize resources.