(Nov. 30, 2018) Worcester County public schools came close to meeting the state’s restrictions on the amount of time spent testing students versus teaching them last year, but because that overage is slight they won’t change their approach.

Amy Gallagher, the board of education’s coordinator of accountability and assessment, reported the findings last Tuesday.

Because of the state’s  More Learning, Less Testing Act of 2017, state, public schools are required to submit results of the amount of time spent on instruction used for student assessment. The analysis is to be done on even or odd years, but not both.

Accordingly, a committee of board staff and members of the Worcester County Teacher’s Association must meet and review local assessments requirements and must agree if the time spent on testing exceeds 2.2 percent of the instructional time. The one exception is 2.3 percent for eighth grade.

“We did that last year [and] we found we did slightly exceed that requirement in grades 5, 7 and 8,” Gallagher told the board. “We as a district and the teachers association were able to mutually agree on that overage.

She added, however, the committee also agreed that the assessment program in place is aligned to the state standards and does serve the purpose of meeting expectations of college and career readiness.”

During the even year, like this one, the law dictates the committees must meet to review the the purpose of the assessment, the time required to complete these assessments, the value of the feedback students receive and the teachers receive, the timeliness of the results and whether or not the results and assessments duplicate.

“The only area for duplication would be we give the English 11 students an assessment for college and career readiness, and we also give the SAT,” Gallagher said. “Those are measuring pretty similar things but different ways of measuring.”

The results presented to the board revealed the school district exceeded the maximum testing test for fifth, seventh and eighth grade students, but will not reduce the amount of time spent testing in those areas.

Another area showed some concerns for early childhood education assessments, where testing may cause a hinderance to overall teacher-student one on one learning, as well as time allocated for national assessments.

“In terms of the value, we do feel our data is useful,” Gallagher said. “We continue to use that data in performance matters. The recommendation of the committee was to leave things as they are.”

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