Students test skills with battery of assessments

Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2004

Tests have always been part of academic life, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is no exception.

Kenai Peninsula students took a battery of assessment tests last year, and this year will offer even more.

The tests are used for all sorts of purposes, from determining school accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act to helping identify areas in which individual youth need added help.

Last year's tests included:

{ The Terra Nova (CAT/6), a state-mandated standardized test including multiple choice questions on basic knowledge and comprehension skills. Students in grades four, five, seven and nine took the three-hour test in February.

{ The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), an assessment given repeatedly throughout the school year in kindergarten through third grade to measure specific reading skills, including letter identification and oral reading.

{ The Analytic Writing Assessment, a performance-based test that uses a specific standards to judge students' abilities to write, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information. Students in grades five, seven and nine took the tests in late January and early February.

{ The Alaska Benchmark Examination, a state-mandated series of tests in reading, writing and mathematics that includes multiple-choice, short-answer and extended-answer questions. Students took Benchmarks in grades three, six and eight.

{ The Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam, administered beginning in the spring of students' 10th-grade year, which includes reading, writing and mathematics tests, all of which students must pass to graduate from high school.

This year, the testing schedule for students will look a little different, as the KPBSD helps pilot a series of new exams for the state. Students in grades five, seven and nine will continue taking the AWA; the DIBELS test will continue in kindergarten through third grade; and high-schoolers still will have to take the HSGQE.

However, only students in grades five and seven will take the Terra Nova, while students in grades three through nine pilot the state's new Standards Based Assessment.

Alaska's Department of Edu-cation and Early Development put out a bid last year to replace statewide assessment tests, and the new contractor will begin supplying tests in the spring of 2005. The tests are expected to be similar to those already in use, but one difference will be that the state will own the questions, so tests shouldn't have to change every few years in the future.

Kindergarten and first-grade teachers will glean additional information from their students' performance on the Kindergarten Development Profile.

This year's ninth-graders began taking the district's Social Studies Test last year and will pilot the Science Test this year. It is the first class that will be required to pass both tests in order to graduate from high school in the KPBSD.

Though the tests are above and beyond the state's graduation requirements, No Child Left Behind eventually will require assessments in both subjects, as well.

Glenn Haupt, director of secondary curriculum, said the requirement puts the district ahead of the game in meeting NCLB standards as they advance over time.

Finally, fourth- and eighth-grade students at some schools in the district will try out the National Assessment of Edu-cational Progress test.

Students test skills with battery of assessments

By JENNI DILLON

Peninsula Clarion

Tests have always been part of academic life, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is no exception.

Kenai Peninsula students took a battery of assessment tests last year, and this year will offer even more.

The tests are used for all sorts of purposes, from determining school accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act to helping identify areas in which individual youth need added help.

Last year's tests included:

{ The Terra Nova (CAT/6), a state-mandated standardized test including multiple choice questions on basic knowledge and comprehension skills. Students in grades four, five, seven and nine took the three-hour test in February.

{ The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), an assessment given repeatedly throughout the school year in kindergarten through third grade to measure specific reading skills, including letter identification and oral reading.

{ The Analytic Writing Assessment, a performance-based test that uses a specific standards to judge students' abilities to write, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information. Students in grades five, seven and nine took the tests in late January and early February.

{ The Alaska Benchmark Examination, a state-mandated series of tests in reading, writing and mathematics that includes multiple-choice, short-answer and extended-answer questions. Students took Benchmarks in grades three, six and eight.

{ The Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam, administered beginning in the spring of students' 10th-grade year, which includes reading, writing and mathematics tests, all of which students must pass to graduate from high school.

This year, the testing schedule for students will look a little different, as the KPBSD helps pilot a series of new exams for the state. Students in grades five, seven and nine will continue taking the AWA; the DIBELS test will continue in kindergarten through third grade; and high-schoolers still will have to take the HSGQE.

However, only students in grades five and seven will take the Terra Nova, while students in grades three through nine pilot the state's new Standards Based Assessment.

Alaska's Department of Edu-cation and Early Development put out a bid last year to replace statewide assessment tests, and the new contractor will begin supplying tests in the spring of 2005. The tests are expected to be similar to those already in use, but one difference will be that the state will own the questions, so tests shouldn't have to change every few years in the future.

Kindergarten and first-grade teachers will glean additional information from their students' performance on the Kindergarten Development Profile.

This year's ninth-graders began taking the district's Social Studies Test last year and will pilot the Science Test this year. It is the first class that will be required to pass both tests in order to graduate from high school in the KPBSD.

Though the tests are above and beyond the state's graduation requirements, No Child Left Behind eventually will require assessments in both subjects, as well.

Glenn Haupt, director of secondary curriculum, said the requirement puts the district ahead of the game in meeting NCLB standards as they advance over time.

Finally, fourth- and eighth-grade students at some schools in the district will try out the National Assessment of Edu-cational Progress test.



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