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.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
County honors men who gave all in helping their community
The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.
State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less
The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
Let’s not do that again.
Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past
Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.
COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?
I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
“Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.
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- Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely