Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Important Changes to the PARCC Test Design

On May 20, 2015 the PARCC governing board (made up of state education commissioners and superintendents) voted to:

·         Reduce the testing time for students by about 90 minutes overall (60 minutes in mathematics; 30 minutes in English language arts) and create more uniformity of test unit times.
·         Consolidate the two windows in English language arts/literacy (including reading and writing) and mathematics into one.
o   The single testing window will simplify administration of the test for states and schools that experienced challenges with scheduling two testing windows.
o   The testing window will be up to 30 days and will extend from roughly the 75% mark to the 90% mark of the school year. Most schools will complete testing in one to two weeks during that window.
·         Reduce the number of test units by two for most students.

The press release and a more detailed explainer are online at: http://parcconline.org/parcc-states-vote-shorten-test-time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

ACCESS Data Reports

Check out the WIDA ACCESS Interpretative Guide: https://www.wida.us/assessment/ACCESS/ScoreReports/ACCESS_Interpretive_Guide11.pdf

The guide provides helpful information for score interpretation of ELL ACCESS scores, as well as an outline of which reports are most useful to specific audiences.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Student Suspension and Reporting Data Policy

How does data fit in with student discipline, under MA DESE laws and regulations?  You can review the data and reporting requirements related to student suspension and expulsion in the Advisory on Student Discipline under Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, found here:

  1. Data Collection and Reporting (603 CMR 53.14)

    In addition to collecting and annually reporting suspension and expulsion data, principals are required to have systems in place to periodically review the data. The purpose of the review is three-fold: 1) to assess what the data reveal about the extent of the use of suspension in their schools; 2) to determine the impact that disciplinary practices have on the removal and exclusion of selected student sub-groups; and 3) to consider and implement adjustments to practice as necessary and appropriate to address over-reliance on suspensions and expulsions and the impact on one or more student sub-groups compared with others.
    The Department will publish student discipline data by district and schools in the fall of each year. The Department also will publicly identify districts and schools whose data reveal over-reliance on long-term suspension and expulsion, and will assist such schools and districts by identifying program models that reduce reliance on suspension and expulsion as a response to misconduct.
    Further, the Department will identify districts and schools whose data reflect significant disparities in the rate of suspension and expulsion by race and ethnicity, or disability. The identified districts and schools must develop and implement a plan, approved by the Department, to address such disparities. This requirement is consistent with a joint U.S. Department of Education/Department of Justice January 8, 2014 Dear Colleague letter on the topic of Non-Discriminatory Administration of School Discipline. The letter stated in part:
    The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), conducted by OCR, has demonstrated that students of certain racial or ethnic groups tend to be disciplined more than their peers. For example, national data show that African-American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as their white peers without disabilities to be expelled or suspended. Although African-American students represent 15% of students in the CRDC, they make up 35% of students suspended once, 44% of those suspended more than once, and 36% of students expelled. Further, over 50% of students who were involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement are Hispanic or African-American.
    The Departments recognize that disparities in student discipline rates in a school or district may be caused by a range of factors. However, research suggests that the substantial racial disparities of the kind reflected in the CRDC data are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color… .
    The purpose of the Dear Colleague letter is to provide guidance to districts so as "to identify, avoid, and remedy discriminatory discipline" and to assist schools in providing equal educational opportunities. The Dear Colleague letter, which is part of a School Climate Discipline Guidance package. We recommend that school officials review the federal guidance as well as the other resources on the Department's website as you implement the new discipline law.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lessons Learned from Turnaround Schools & Districts

While you may not be a level 4 or 5 school or district, research on what worked well in turnaround schools sheds light on accelerating student achievement gains.  Check out what MA DESE has learned about school turnaround practices in their annual reports and Turnaround Practices in Achievement Gains Schools Video Series, found here: