School officials don't know who will develop standardized tests to measure learning under the new College and Career Ready Common Core standards being implemented this year. For 30 years, standardized tests have been created by the University of Kansas. The Kansas State Board of Education is expected to recommend, instead, a switch to tests developed by a consortium called Smarter Balance.
A decision won't be made until December, and the new tests won't be implemented until 2015.
USD 382 Curriculum Director David Schmidt warned Board of Education members Monday that some kids will struggle with the new tests. He encouraged board members to download practice tests already available for eighth graders.
"I think eleventh grade will blow your mind," he said.
Testing may not take longer, but it will go deeper, he said, giving an example of a short reading assignment that becomes six problems, none of them multiple choice.
"Guess and check may be a strategy that's gone," he predicted.
Schmidt indicated that a session could be held in the spring for parents to see what will be expected of their students and take some practice tests.
Superintendent Suzan Patton said that elementary children are already using multiple ways to solve problems and then explain their answers. She believes they will be more ready than older students for the new assessments.
In a tour of Liberty Middle School that preceded the meeting, English teacher Sabre Dixon described ways she uses groups and cooperative learning to ensure that everyone participates. Group makeup changes every six weeks.
In answer to questions from Board Member Bill Skaggs, she said her seventh graders use their iPads every day for research and presentations. She said they are helpful for student athletes to quickly learn what they have missed in class.
Patton reported that new diagonal parking spaces at Southwest Elementary seem to be effective.
In action items, the board:
• Approved the purchase of an 8-passenger vehicle from Lanterman Motors for the price of $31,445. An older vehicle with 164,000 miles will be used for in-town trips, such as mail delivery.
• Changed the salary classification for food service workers to make it more competitive. The boost will cost the district about $100 per day.
• approved the hiring of Rosalie Rice as Beyond the Bell secretary to replace Mary Flemming, whose resignation was accepted; hired Lori Blasi as a bus monitor, accepted the resignation of PHS science teacher Doyle Crosswhite; and approved hiring Kyle Ricke as a fifth grade teacher to replace Roxanne Vicars, who will retire in May.