School system deserves waiver from state education officials

By the Gulf Coast Media Editorial Board
Posted 10/6/16

Baldwin County’s Board of Education met earlier this week to apply for a waiver about the type of standardized tests that will soon make up the county schools’ report card scores, due to be …

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School system deserves waiver from state education officials

Posted

Baldwin County’s Board of Education met earlier this week to apply for a waiver about the type of standardized tests that will soon make up the county schools’ report card scores, due to be released by the state in December, that measure overall school performance.

School officials argued that the current means of testing, the ASPIRE test, was not an accurate representation of the learning going on in our schools.

Dr. Joyce Woodburn, the county’s academic dean, showed a large amount of data proving the ASPIRE tests’ correlations with improved ACT scores and adherence to state College and Career Readiness Standards were largely non-existent.

Couple that with complaints from other school systems around the state that their scores were similarly problematic.

As a teacher, if you see that everyone in the class has scored poorly on a test, you should realize the problem is with your test.

Any teacher worth their salt will know that the test is likely invalid and will find another means of assessment.

That’s what Baldwin County is asking to do – the ASPIRE test is believed to be ineffective, and the county would like to use another testing system that they think can and does work to better help our children: the Scantron Performance Series tests.

With the Scantron testing system that has been proposed, children will be tested at designated, regular points in the year, which will enable teachers and administrators to assess the effectiveness of instruction throughout the year in real time.

Under the current testing method, test scores aren’t released until late summer, after kids have already left those teachers — leaving teachers unable to help those children with the problems the data showed.

With Scantron, Baldwin County teachers would be able to pinpoint instructional needs on a student by student basis and target teaching to what each child actually needs.

Likewise, the school system can find areas where teachers might have needs for help with how to teach different standards and use professional development to help them find ways to better educate our children.

We hope the state board of education will grant the waiver, as the ASPIRE data they love to champion clearly shows that test isn’t working.

This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Gulf Coast Media Editorial Board, composed of editors and staff of the Gulf Coast Media family of newspapers. If you have questions or comments, or would like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email our managing editor at cliff@gulfcoastmedia.com.