On Aug. 15, the Texas Education Agency released academic accountability ratings for districts, charter schools, and other campuses across the state. In this first implementation of an A-F scale to rate how well school systems are functioning, Texas joined 15 other states across the country that have implemented a similar accountability system.In 1999, Florida became the first state to adopt an A-F school rating system as part of its A+ Education Plan. In 2015, when the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law, the federal government gave states the authority to meet education standards without hampering them with excessive mandates and stipulations. In response to this new flexibility, several states began implementing accountability models like Florida's. Now that the approach is becoming more widely used, educators all over the nation are debating the merit and implications of an A-F accountability system.Read More
In today’s economically and culturally diverse society it is vitally important that educators and community leaders find clarity on each other’s role in supporting our students' academic achievement (Anderson-Butcher et. al., 2010). This need is only intensified when we consider the context of the required school reform actions brought on by No Child Left behind (NCLB) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) accountability measures. However, the formation of effective school and community partnerships is usually defaulted to the responsibility of the schools and often are not established due to communication and expectation barriers (Hands, 2010). With increasing reports of economic disparities between parents and communities of high performing schools and those of schools in need of academic achievement improvements, various factors have served as barriers to strong school and community partnerships.Read More
Are there right and wrong advanced academic courses to take in high school to prepare for college? More specifically, which college readiness program is more effective for a high school student, dual credit or Advanced Placement (AP). In my district, not unlike many others across the state of Texas, we have been actively striving to expand our college readiness initiatives and programs. Upon reflection, one aspect of these effort poses a dilemma, as defined by Cuban (2001), that many K-12 school systems may face - the need to expand dual credit program; the potential issue of diluting our successful Advanced Placement (AP) program and a need for more effective academic advisement to properly inform students and parents about the benefits and limitations of both college readiness programs. The positive impacts of AP programming have been well documented in the literature, while the limited research related to dual credit highlights both its benefits and limitations. Although I am aware of the evidence of both AP and dual credit programming fostering college readiness in students, I find myself facing overwhelming pressure from the district administration, parents, and other community stakeholders to place more emphasis on dual credit.Read More
The increasingly competitive global workforce of the 21st century has brought on the need for students and teachers to develop new skills and competencies in our educational systems. Given that the 21st-century classroom is characterized by innovation and project-based context, schools should adopt a 21st-century teaching and learning methods that blend creative thinking skills and employs methods of instruction that integrate modern learning technologies and real-world contexts (Wan & Gut, 2011).Read More
High Stakes Testing Culture
In an age of accountability and high stakes testing, we have accomplished a lot. We have managed to learn how to analyze assessment data to determine trends. We have also learned how to break down objectives or learning standards into their most intricate parts. Most of all we have learned how to make ourselves feel good about our data.Everybody is "data-driven" these days. But what does that really mean? There still exists a culture of assessment "I got ya". Frankly, we are so focused on assessments that we have missed the whole boat on instruction. If we put the same energy and intensity that we have invested in assessments into quality instruction, we might actually have more accurate assessments. Now I realize having quality assessments can and should drive instruction, we just need to vary it a little.
How can we, as school systems, transition from a culture assessment for accountability to one focused on students learning? any of you may have experienced an educational system that has figured how the "game" of high stakes state testing. The more intimately involved you are with teaching and learning the more repulsive the idea of playing with what state standards are taught and tested to merely make a school district look good.I am ready to buck the system by actually teaching and assessing for student learning first. I am not saying we should do away with summative assessments of learning. I realize how necessary it is for every school system. I would just like to see the focus put in the proper balance. Maybe we could even move toward looking at project-based work or performance-based assessments. In future posts, I will share some different strategies for assessing for learning. In the meantime, I guess we will keep plowing away at making more new tests.
Assessment for Learning vs. Assessment of Learning