Accountability could be affected, Concerns over Test Security
This from Brad Hughes at KSBA:
In what one official calls a “win-win situation,” the Kentucky Department of Education has decided there will be no EXPLORE tests for eighth-graders next school year and no PLAN exams for 10th graders. The assessments were used to gauge students’ readiness to do college level work and have been part of the state’s Unbridled Learning school and student accountability system.
When ACT Inc. announced in 2013 that EXPLORE and PLAN would be phased out, KDE issued a request for proposals in hopes of finding a test that could be used starting this fall. However, in [a] Monday Superintendent E-mail [earlier this month], state officials announced the decision to cancel the scheduled tests this September.
“No new test forms are available (and) the 2015 test form will repeat the 2014 form,” KDE said in the communication. “Test security for the form and specific items is questionable and raises concerns about using of the test results from a 2015 administration.”
Rhonda Sims, associate commissioner of the Office of Assessment and Accountability, told [KSBA's] eNews in an email interview that ACT’s reuse of the 2014 test form led to the decision by Education Commissioner Terry Holiday.
“EXPLORE and PLAN forms change annually. After testing, forms remain in the district to be redistributed to students after are scores are returned,” Sims said. “Test security depends strongly on new forms annually. If data is contributing to the accountability system, we need to be confident it is not influenced by overexposure to test items.”
Sims sees both the upside and downside of PLAN and EXPLORE going away this fall.
“I think we can all agree that it is a win-win situation if you can have student-level data that meets needs without additional testing,” she said, adding she remains confident that other data on eighth- and 10th-graders’ academics will contribute to the accountability system’s results for 2015-16.
A potential downside is the resulting change in student scores minus EXPLORE and PLAN test questions.
“KDE will need to see what pieces of information from existing tests can be generated,” Sims said.
With concerns in Kentucky and elsewhere about student and teacher “testing fatigue,” there is no guarantee that a replacement for EXPLORE and PLAN tests will be implemented after next year.
“I think this will be a conversation with stakeholders and policy makers this year,” Sims said.
In the June 29 email to district and state leaders, KDE said the decision also includes cancellation of the Transition Attainment Record for alternative school students in grades 8 and 10.
Although ACT Inc. is also phasing out the Compass exam (for students who have not met benchmark scores on the national ACT exam), Compass assessments still will be available in Kentucky high schools for the 2015-16 year.