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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough assessment officials say every test has a purpose



From the looks of things, educators have never met a test they don’t like.

Explaining the plethora of tests to Hillsborough County School Board members this morning, Samuel Whitten and other administration officials say there is a sound purpose for every kind of test.

In the younger grades, the formative “FAIR” tests guide teachers in their instruction and, in some cases, can be used to predict performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

In high school, tests drive decisions on which students to tutor, and in what subjects. End-of-course exams, which have been around since 1984, are a kind of “autopsy” that tells the district how well teachers did their jobs.

The PSAT is a good conversation starter for that student who is getting low grades but, according to the test, is smart enough to aim for college.

National tests such as the National Assessment of Education Progress’ Trial Urban District Assessment, well, they reinforce the district’s success (Hillsborough took top results this year).

And yes, there are a lot of Advanced Placement tests, because Hillsborough is a big AP district -- and with higher proficiency rates this year.

As painful and costly as it has been to transition from paper and pencil to computers, Hillsborough officials say they are well ahead of other districts.

“We’re testing later and getting results back faster,” said Whitten, Hillsborough’s assessment director, who has been leading the discussion at this morning’s workshop.

With all the hue and cry about high stakes testing, board members are under pressure to take a stand.

But when it comes down to the hard question of which tests to keep and which to phase out, the decisions will not be easy.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 10:22am]


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