Preparing for New State Tests: Now What?
To All MISIC Members:
“Keep calm and focus on instruction!”
Recent bills at the Iowa State Legislature are attempting to stall or eliminate the move to a new state test. While training on the state-adopted test from Smarter Balanced was on track and we were working to help students prepare for the test, some legislators and vendors have once again proposed legislation that takes the state back to the drawing board to re-consider the test to be chosen. We don’t know what the legislators will decide. Whatever test they determine we will use is a moot point. What IS important is that we are teaching to the standards that define what our students need to know or be able to do to be prepared for the rest of their lives.
We know that best practice is to align the standards, instruction and assessments we give students. So whatever test the state finally settles on and whenever they decide we should start giving it is not, nor should it be, the driving force behind our instruction. It’s about the instruction and how well students are meeting the standards. Every day that we do not shift instruction to meet the learning needs of students and to help them gain mastery of the standards that define college, career and citizenship readiness, is a day of opportunity that students lose. By focusing on the standards, rather than the test, we can ensure that instruction is truly standards-aligned. This is – and always has been – MISIC’s mission and purpose.
Because MISIC is about “impacting students and improving curriculum,” we will continue to offer workshops that will prepare students for the kind of rigorous tests that will eventually be selected by the state. Whether that test remains to be Smarter Balanced or not, we believe there is much we can learn from SBAC about how to provide the kind of instruction students will need to meet the standards. MISIC will continue to offer workshops and provide materials around how to help students meet the high expectations and rigor of the standards.
In order to ensure that the focus is on rigorous instruction instead of a specific test, MISIC will offer an adapted version of the “Getting Ready for the SBAC” workshop on January 26. This will mirror the two workshops in November, but has been renamed “A Focus on Instruction: Preparing Students for Rigorous Assessments.” In addition, we will be sponsoring a conference on this same topic on April 7, which will delve more deeply into instruction that prepares students for rigorous assessments. More information about the conference on April 7 will be coming out soon.
We have heard from many members who are staying the course of focusing on instruction that prepares students for any test that is chosen. MISIC will continue to monitor the test selection process and encourage members to continue to work to implement the shifts that are so critical to student learning and their preparation for the future.
Keeping students and their learning as the focus,
Sue Z. Beers
“Impacting Students, Improving Curriculum”