Idea: Let’s Test Sophomores on Junior Content! That Makes Sense.

I know it’s been a busy week for most of the state’s teachers.  Like me, you likely were caught up to speed on the changes that will be implemented in the school due to passage of laws in last year’s legislative session.

However, my ears certainly pricked up when an administrator announced to our staff that, unlike last year, all sophomores will be given the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) this year instead of the Juniors.

Here’s why this matters: If this testing population formula is administered then the sophomores will be tested on Common Core State Standards..ahem…Idaho State Standards that they have not been taught.

That’s because for both English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematical Common Core Standards there is a substantial content gap between the Sophomore and Junior levels.

For example: most secondary students take Algebra 2 their Junior year; however, a sophomore taking the SBAC will be assesesd on Junior level content, including Algebra 2 level material.  In other words, a sophomore taking this test will be presented with questions that they have had no instruction in, but will tasked to successfully complete the questions in order to be labeled as “proficient.”

Likewise, there are content standards in the English Language Arts/Literacy standards that a Sophomore likely will not be instructed in.  That’s because the ELA standards are seperated into a grade 9-10 strand, and a grade 11-12 strand.

In other words, students will be taking a test that will ask them questions that they have had no instruction or preparation in order to successfully answer.

Because that makes sense.  Let’s let Johnny take the driver’s test before taking driver’s education; or, for that matter, even having the opportunity to place the key in the ignition.

Here’s why this is frustrating:  This is the first year that Idaho will actually get data back.  Talk about a way to set up teachers as “failing” when the students are assessed on content that they haven’t even been taught.

Yup, let’s release a bunch of student test scores that aren’t proficient because we tested sophomores over junior content.

See, as much as SBAC has been touted as the newest-greatest way of improving student learning, even those sophomores that are being tested can tell you that it’s not fair to test them over content they haven’t learned.

They could also tell you it’s not right then to release that data indicating a lack of student “proficiency” in Math and Language Arts.

Proficiency in what?  For this decision, I’d say state administration has a severe deficiency in their “proficiency” of basic logic.





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