Hooray! The U.S. Department of Education is giving away $9.2 million to help states devise better tests for 4 year olds!
According to a recent article in Education Week, “Some state officials say the money would be welcome as they revamp their early-childhood-assessment programs. But others suggest that if the Education Department wants to focus attention on just one part of early learning, an avenue other than kindergarten assessments—teacher professional development, for example—would have been more welcome.”
But I say, to Hell with “teacher professional development.”
We are Connecticut and more assessments is our motto.
For example, just this past year, Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative included not one, but two major laws creating new reading assessment programs targeting pre-k to 3rd graders.
According to Public Act 12-116, the State Department of Education was required to “develop or approve reading assessments for districts to use to identify deficient K-3 readers. The education commissioner must submit these assessments to the Education Committee by February 1, 2013. Districts must use these assessments beginning July 1, 2013.”
In addition, according to the new law, “Assessments must frequently screen and monitor students throughout the school year. Screening will measure student mastery of phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Districts can then use data from these screenings to develop individualized and whole class instruction.”
The major for profit educational testing companies have already lined up to start collecting taxpayer funds.
The noted education testing company, Pearson Education, has been selling a product called “Work Sampling System” and another company, Teaching Strategies LLC, has their own assessment product called the “Teaching Strategies Gold” program.
And it’s not like we’re starting from scratch.
According to the Education Week article, Connecticut is already well-known for its existing assessment program.
The Education Week article explains that Connecticut’s “kindergarten-entrance inventory” is administered in October. Teachers evaluate children on a variety of skills, such as counting to 10; holding a book and turning pages from front to back; and following classroom routines. An “exit inventory” also measures pupils’ skills as they prepare to leave kindergarten.”
And speaking of assessments, Connecticut’s new law also adds new rounds of testing of teachers.
According to the law, “Teachers certified in comprehensive special education or remedial reading and language arts must pass the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2013.
This reading instruction test was approved by SBE on April 1, 2009. Teachers must receive a satisfactory score on the test in order for their teaching endorsement to be valid for grades K-6 and K-12.
Additionally, K-3 teachers and local boards of education employees who hold certificates with nursery-3 or elementary endorsements must take the practice version of the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2014. Employees holding initial, provisional, or professional educator certificates must comply.
Unfortunately, the legislation was so poorly written that, “It is unclear if each affected teacher must take the above tests once or yearly.”
You can find out more about Connecticut’s new reading assessment program here http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0519.htm and more about the national scene via the Education Week article here: