Work continues as the Standardized Assessment Task Force participates in an email exchange of questions and answers, a system which was designed to be less invasive on members’ summer vacation and repeated travel to Augusta (even from as far away as St Agatha) for structured meetings.
Let’s review the first meeting of the selected members of educators (including Maine Education Association members), principals, superintendents, including some members of the Maine DOE staff. At the June gathering, each member of the task force offered their likes and dislikes with explanations in regard to last year’s assessment. Those comments included an appreciation for the past year’s testing as: shorter, more rigorous, flexible, connected to curriculum, web based, a wider window of testing, a secured platform, having a structured writing component, and statewide there were few issues.
The observations shared on what was not appreciated from this past year’s testing were greater to include: too much prep and cumbersome material, testing was disconnected from AP and IB curriculum, some testing problems were a problem in and of themselves, questions were multi-level and too long, for elementary students the testing was too long, for 11th graders there is just too much testing, and extra technical support was needed.
Following that meeting, 15 questions were developed by Maine DOE staff, keeping in mind the above mentioned observation, and task force members addressed those. The responses which came in were shared for comments and have been received again. Those comments and answers generated one final question and those responses are currently being compiled.
In addition to the task force addressing the posed questions, hundreds more have weighed in via email, specifically answering the same questions that were that were posed to the task force. This, in addition to the comments sent in via the task force web page, has offered the Department a wealth of observations to move forward, providing thoughtful direction as the Department crafts a request for proposal (RFP) for a new testing partner.
The repeated comment of “don’t rush” is noted and agreed with; however, in order to secure a new standardized assessment, allow for preparation, practice and implementation for the Spring of 2016, the Department needs to move forward, without delay, making for a busy fall.