Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Inner Thoughts of the Seattle School Board on Assessments

At the last Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting, head of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction, Kyle Kinoshita, reported out to the Board a compilation of what staff heard regarding "the Board feedback on the assessment policy draft from the Committee of the Whole meeting"  (See page 44 of the agenda.)

He also states:

We are still sorting through feedback from the Board as well as our continued stakeholder engagement to determine the next set of revisions to the policy draft.

I think this a valuable look at the thought process of the directors.  What we see are themes that arise - no matter what the topic - on policy direction, transparency, and, indirectly, reasoning around what the district spends money on .

So what did directors have to say?

Directors are seeking clarity on:

-Student and parent rights with attention to issues of over-testing, “opt-outs”, and timely and appropriate sharing of results;
-Policy purpose, specifically what is our philosophy of assessment, language around balance between assessment and instruction and clarity of purpose of assessment in SPS;
-Greater transparency in assessment selection and implementation;
-And finally a clear, transparent process for selecting assessments with clear guidance as to the role of the school board in this process 

Student and Parent Rights

  • Greater explanation of rights of students and parents
  • Timely sharing of results
  • Parents should be notified even if assessments are not mandated
  • Commit to not over-assessing vs. engaging or instructing
  • Student bill of rights
  • What is meant by language of “affirm diverse populations”
  • What to do for students who opt out
  • Language of what assessments are not: “duplicative”, labeling students, creating anxiety
    in educational environment 
  • Using results appropriately, children being negatively impacted 
  • Punitive treatment of opt out students needs to be addressed
  • Timeliness of assessment outcomes, build in formula for receiving results 
Policy Purpose

  • What is our definition of a balanced assessment framework?
  • What does staff believe the purpose of the policy is? 
  • Want sense of district philosophy of how we use assessment and balance between assessment and instruction
  • Purpose of assessment should be to figure out areas when our students are failing
  • Need to address why we are using assessments 
  • Why do we still have an achievement gap when we are assessing students so much? 

  • Not enough emphasis on why we are using assessments
  • Benefit to system and teachers needs to be expanded for rationale for an assessment policy. Nibbling around the edge limits impact and benefit of assessments
  • Would like to see we are not just assessing the students but assessing the schools in how they are delivering the curriculum 
  • Students aren’t engaged and don’t feel valued 
  • Be more reflective of curriculum, more inclusive 

  • Clarify scope of assessments covered by policy
  • More clarity on interim and summative 
  • Philosophy statement – assessment as integral to instruction 

Transparency in Assessment 

  • Report of assessments formally adopted
  • Use phrase “opt out” and be more explicit 
  • Know assessments being administered and options of parents to not participate 
  • Parents should be notified even if assessments are not mandated

Assessment Selection and Board Involvement in Process 

  • What is the role of the school board in approval of assessments?
  • Want assessments with amounts approaching or exceeding 250k to come to board 
  • Not transparent in selection and use. Mystery around use of assessments. Want to formalize process and be transparent 
  • Who selects the assessment tools
  • Explicit adoption process including theory of action and why for each tool. What is problem trying to solve 
  • Pilot study is imperative 
  • Want continuity – consistent, centrally funded and trained, research prove, stable, effective, sustainable 
  • Cultural bias of assessments need to be address in policy
Community Engagement Process Feedback 
  • Who are levy partners (community engagement)
  • Reaching out to opt out groups 
  • SEA/SPS committee – community engagement, families


Anonymous said...

Happy to see the Board pushing back on this! I am not anti-standardized test. But I realized how out of control the whole thing was when my kindergartener took three standardized test over the course of his very first year of school. I agree with the board that there needs to be more transparency and discussion.

Wasn't part of the SEA contract last year a formation of a committee of teachers and admin to look at this with the end goal of reducing the number of assessments our students were given over their school years? What ever happened to that?

-NW mom

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