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State Testing and Essential Standards
State Testing and Essential Standards
Posted on 10/26/2016

State testing results for the 2015-2016 school year were delivered to parents and guardians across the State of Washington.

Washington State Learning Standards in English language arts and math, and the aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA), are designed to prepare students for college, work and life. (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.)

According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Washington State Learning Standards are a way to measure the skills of a student for success in continuing education as well as working in the “real world”.

Washington State measures student progress in math and English language arts through the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), a computer-based assessment that was introduced in the 2014-2015 school year. Students receive a score on a scale of one through four; a three means they are proficient and on track for college and career readiness, a four shows the student exceeds standards of being on track.  A level one or two may indicate that the student needs additional support and assistance.  Student progress in science is measured using another computer-based assessment called Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) and uses a similar scale.

The state tests measure students’ abilities in reading, writing, listening problem solving, and critical thinking. The tests are designed to allow students the opportunity to show their work through written explanation of their answers and accurately select evidence. These comprehensive tests, combined with teacher feedback and work done in the classroom, make up the measure of a student’s progress in school.

“One of the best aspects about using the Smarter Balanced system is it is not just an end-of -year test” explained Beth Simpson, Director of Assessment and Accountability.  To determine a student’s academic progress there are interim practice tests and “quick checks” that can be used to track student growth and determine what resources the student may need in order to be proficient in the given subject.  If a portion of the class is able to demonstrate proficiency in a given lesson or unit of study, but the rest of the class still needs opportunities to demonstrate their learning, a teacher can differentiate their instructional approach.  The information that is gathered from our state assessments help identify students’ progress.  This information is often used to improve processes that best serve students’ academic needs.

In the Puyallup School District, state test results are used to review and refine curriculum as well as teaching methods throughout the district. The goal of the Puyallup School District is for each and every child to have a meaningful post-secondary opportunity after graduating.  Using state assessment results is one of many indicators that is used to inform classroom instruction and improve student learning, which assists in reaching this goal.

The district has identified standards that each student must be able to demonstrate for each grade level. These are referred to as “essential standards”.  Essential standards encompass the knowledge and skills that students must know and be able to do in order to be successful at the next level of learning.  Essential standards align with Washington State Learning Standards and support an aligned and coherent curriculum.  Part of an aligned and coherent curriculum

At the October 17 school board meeting at Kalles Junior High, Dr. Vince Pecchia, Chief Instructional Leadership Officer, stated “Part of our work around improving instruction, student growth and achievement is focused on our efforts to implement Response to Intervention (RTI) throughout the district. Part of that work is on concentrated instruction and the identification of essential standards for every grade level and content area throughout the district”.

Through RTI a teacher can identify what additional resources a student might need to support their learning.  This can be done at a classroom level, all the way down to an individual student level. This allows teachers in the district to monitor their classroom on an individual level and to be flexible in using curriculum that best fits each student’s needs.
Devin Konsmo