Mastery of facts is certainly an important part of education.
Top students, though, go a step further as they move through their school years. They are able to apply the information they have learned to real-life situations, an ability that will pay great dividends as they proceed with their education and careers.
With that concept in mind, students across West Virginia are being prepared for a new standardized test that will replace the WESTEST.
Students will begin taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment Test during the 2014-2015 school year. It is based on the national Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states, including West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Every teacher in Marion County will be trained in the Common Core State Standards for next year, Marion County Superintendent of Schools Gary Price said at this week’s board of education meeting. Randy Farley, administrative assistant for curriculum, technology and instruction, will be in charge of the training.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, according to its web site, “is developing a system of valid, reliable and fair next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics for grades 3-8 and 11. The system — which includes both summative assessments for accountability purposes and optional interim assessments for instructional use — will use computer adaptive testing technologies to the greatest extent possible to provide meaningful feedback and actionable data that teachers and other educators can use to help students succeed. Smarter Balanced assessments will go beyond multiple-choice questions to include extended-response and technology-enhanced items, as well as performance tasks that allow students to demonstrate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.”
The Common Core State Standards, according to the mission statement, “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”
West Virginia officials believe the change in standardized testing will help the state better educate its young people.
“WESTEST is just a West Virginia-based test. Smarter Balanced is being developed by a consortium of 26 states. This should assure parents that West Virginia is implementing an equal curriculum,” said Robert Hull, associate superintendent for the state Department of Education’s Division of Teaching and Learning. “Now, we will be able to measure how our students compare to other states much easier.”
They won’t be measured simply by facts they can recall.
“The content is much more rigorous in that students don’t just need to know all of the basic skills, but instead need to be able to apply those skills. It’s not just, ‘Do you know it or not?”’ Hull said. “We used to say our curriculum was an inch deep and a mile wide, but it’s no longer about that. It’s about knowing fewer, more strategic things at a much deeper level. Students actually have to take the information and do something with it — not just regurgitate it back.”
The new test will be taken on a computer.
“Right now, everyone has a pencil and paper and they’re asked the same question. The new test is adaptive, which means students will be taken to different levels when they answer questions. If they get the answer right, they will receive a more advanced question,” Hull said.
It’s an evolving process.
Kindergarten and first-grade classes are now using the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for math and reading/language arts. The standards are being implemented in second-grade classes, and all grades will use them by the fall of 2014. Standards for other subjects are still being developed. In the interim, the WESTEST will be used for science and social studies, Hull told the Charleston Gazette.
Standardized testing is not about passing or failing. It’s about developing information to help students and those responsible to educating them.
West Virginia is moving to meet that objective.
Mastery of facts is certainly an important part of education.
‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia
Hopefully, the heavy snow and extremely cold weather of January, February and early March are in the past.
Remnants of the harsh winter, though, remain. They’re faced each day by the state’s drivers.
Potholes have West Virginia’s roads in their worst condition in years, and the damaging freeze-thaw cycle is not over.
‘The issues are complicated’ with e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes have been around for about seven years.
But you’d be shocked at how long the idea for the the tobacco-less product has been around.
“A primitive, battery-operated ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’ was patented as early as 1963 and described in Popular Mechanics in 1965,” Megan McArdle wrote for Business Week last monty.
Coal industry can’t afford to give this administration and EPA more ammunition
Coal already has a bad name in Washington, D.C.
The whole industry got another black eye this week when Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $27.5 million fine and invest $200 million to reduce illegal water pollution in five states, including West Virginia.
Being observant, reporting suspicions can make difference for hurting children
If a child is hurting, we wouldn’t hesitate to help.
Or would we?
In a five-year span, 22,830 children were victims of some type of neglect or abuse in West Virginia. That’s an overwhelming number to think about.
Gee makes major impact and earns another term as WVU president
Let’s imagine that a graduate from West Virginia University in the early 1980s, when E. Gordon Gee was president, came back to get an extra degree now and couldn’t believe that E. Gordon Gee is “still” the president of WVU.
Effort to encourage purchase of goods produced in U.S. deserves support
The concept of encouraging the purchase of American-made products is certainly not new.
On the federal level, the Buy American Act was passed in 1933 by Congress and signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.
‘Stop Meth, Not Meds’ backed by readers
In West Virginia, there is something referred to as “stop-sale technology” that prevents a person from going to more than one pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter medication that contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant.
It’s not an issue of stuffy noses that lawmakers were worried about when they created the system.
Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity
Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.
It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.
Cutting-edge heart procedure at Mon General is saving lives
“I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.
Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ many works, magic words
You know his words.
You know them well.
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