State School Superintendent Tommy Bice noticed a visibly lighter mood amidst the state’s 134 superintendents Monday, perhaps because a few of Alabama’s educational accountability measures are about to become more realistic.
Bice spoke during a session of Monday’s School Superintendents of Alabama fall conference. at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center.
He said spending millions of dollars the last decade to implement the No Child Left Behind mandated accountability measures is about to be a thing of the past with no Adequate Yearly Progress report this school year.
“We spent millions with that (AYP) as the focus, but now the focus is shifting to evaluations that mean something and are reflective of what we’re teaching in Alabama schools,” he said. “These are measures that have purpose.”
Assessments during the next three school years will be phased in with new end-of-course tests already being implemented.
Graduation exams are being phased out with juniors and seniors taking them this year, with new assessments that are aligned with current teaching standards given in 2013. The new accountability plan, in its entirety will be implemented during the 2015-16 school year.
During the 2013-14 school year, a new assessment will begin for grades third through seventh and only 12th-graders will take the high school graduation exam. This year, 11th- and 12th-graders take the graduation exam.
This year is also the transitional year for the assessment changes with no AYP reports. However, spring data collected this school year will be factored into establishing baselines for testing (cut-off) scores.
Bice told his audience the new end-of-year course exams will account for 20 percent of the course grade.
“During the transition, we’re going to teach to standards of the Alabama College and Career Readiness standards (Alabama’s course of study) that’s locally aligning K-12 curriculum,” Bice said. “It will be monitored regu- larly through benchmark assessments.”
As for end-of-course exams, some superintendents who are already giving them say strict requirements should be set for students taking them.
Mobile County Superintendent Martha Peek suggested the state require that students take the test or not get credit for the course.
“We realized we had to make the tests required because kids were figuring their grade (minus the 20 percent) and skipping it on test day,” Peek said. “In our district, kids must take the test to get a grade.”
Bice agreed additional consideration should be given to the exam requirements.
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.