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.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region
Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.
COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community
There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.
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- Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated