Standardized Achievement Assessments in the Shorewood School District
Dear Shorewood Families,
There is currently some controversy surrounding the Wisconsin Badger Smarter Balanced Exam – the replacement to the WKCE for math and English that is to begin this year. Here's what we know:
The Badger Exam was meant to align to the new state Common Core State standards, and by almost all accounts is a better assessment tool than the WKCE it is replacing.
Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal for 2016-2017 includes a provision of barring use of Smarter Balanced (Badger Exam) for elementary and middle school students, and prohibiting the state superintendent of schools from using the Common Core as a standard.
Under Walker's plan, school districts and individual schools would be able to choose a test to administer to measure student achievement in their district, rather than using a single standardized test statewide. (It is not clear if this is possible under NCLB, which requires states to have one state-mandated test. If true, this could mean the state would lose $500 million a year in federal funding.)
Thus, at this point we are not sure if we will be required to use the Badger Exam next year, but we would be required to use some state-mandated assessment tool. And it might be the Badger Exam.
Given these details, the District is moving forward with the Badger Exam this school year.
The Board's Position on Achievement Tests and Assessments
1. The Shorewood School District will comply with state mandates regarding student achievement tests. We are a "destination district," and therefore benefit from the positive reviews we receive from our district report cards.
2. We are sensitive to the concerns of losing instructional time during testing, and restrict our assessments in Shorewood to only those that provide valuable information that teachers can use to support student learning. Testing is not new, but the new assessments are in general better at highlighting student strengths and exposing gaps. The exam results will show us where we are exceeding standards so we maintain our best efforts and areas where we need to strengthen and improve.
3.Student assessments in Shorewood have never been and are currently NOT tied to teacher performance evaluations.
4.Standardized tests are one facet of a myriad of tools teachers are expected to use to assess student abilities and performance. We know the exams are a snapshot of students academic performance, and thus consider them no more or less important than teacher evaluations and other summative and formative tools in supporting student learning.
Facts about the Wisconsin Badger (Smarter Balanced) Exam
The Badger Exam will take no more than seven hours and thirty minutes to administer over several days. The English portion of the test takes four hours for grades 3-8, the math portion takes three hours for grades 3-5 and three hours and thirty minutes in grades 6-8. However, some students will need additional time, which is permitted.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has a number of very good resources for teachers and parents about the Badger Test. You can learn more by clicking here.
If after learning more about the Badger Exam you decide that you would like to opt your child(ren) out of the exam; per Shorewood School board policy #333 and Wisconsin state statute (118.30(2)(b)(3)) (http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/118/30/2/b/3), please submit a letter to your child(rens) counselor communicating your desire to opt out before the testing window begins.
Although families have the right to opt out of testing, opting out might lower the school's and school district's state report card score that is published through DPI and reported nationwide.
Shorewood Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Pupil Services
Shorewood School Board Clerk
Thursday March, 5, 2015 at 12:29PM
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