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WVBE Changes Testing Requirements

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State Board of Education members decided to waive Smarter Balanced testing in grades 9 and 10 for both English/language arts and math this spring. Their decision means testing requirements will not go beyond what is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

They also voted to eliminate Smarter Balanced across all grades after the spring “and explore the other options” leading to the adoption of new summative assessments.

English/language arts and math will continue to be tested in grades 3-8, as well as grade 11. Science will be tested in 10th grade and grades 5 and 8.

The newly constituted board also removed language about end-of-course exams from a policy that had been on public comment. WVDE Chief Academic Officer Clayton Burch said the comments received on Policy 2340 were overwhelmingly opposed to end-of-course exams.

Burch and state board members acknowledged the importance of listening to teachers on these kind of classroom issues.    

WVEA has been very vocal over many months – encouraging the board to make positive changes for teachers and students to the statewide Assessment program. WVEA also has long proposed eliminating the A-F school grading system. This is a great step.            

WVEA’s comments regarding the testing were instrumental in pulling the end-of-course exam language from the policy proposal. Thanks to all of those who made comments.

On Feb. 8, WVEA President Dale Lee addressed the board about the policy, and said in part:

“Right now the Board has a policy on comment to begin end-of-course exams at the high school and revisit the Smarter Balanced in the other grades. Who decided that was the best, most-effective approach for testing in our state?

Lee addressed the policy again at a state board meeting Thursday, Feb. 16 just prior to the vote to remove the assessments. WVEA has been the only statewide organization representing educators to speak out strongly and publicly on these assessment issues and A-F school grading.   

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WVEA President Dale Lee addressed the WV Board of Education on Wednesday, February 08, 2017. Below are his remarks -

Mr. President, Supt. Martirano, members of the board,

I’m WVEA President Dale Lee and I am pleased to be here today standing in front of a State Board that has a majority of its members who have education experience and expertise. 

To some that may not be a big deal but it is to those educators who are in the classroom every day doing the best they can to educate our state’s students. 

As many of you know, running a school or a school system is not as simple as running a business. It is a complicated, interconnected world of its own and external rules and regulations that are unnecessary or burdensome simply get in the way of a child’s education.

I can read on the internet, attend a workshop or sleep at a Holiday Inn Express, but that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to perform surgery. It is the same with educating our children. It can’t be understood from afar, by reading about the latest trend or attending a workshop. 

You have to be engaged in the school system to fully understand what is going on and how the regulations of this board impact the system.

It is the hope of all educators that this board uses its combined experience and takes a hard look at the direction previous State Boards have gone with education policies.

I have been before this board a number of times objecting to the A-F grading of our schools and how it is a misguided representation of what learning is and how it is not a representation of the quality of our schools. 

I ask this board to reconsider that policy and do away with the A-F grading of our schools. There are many other ways to measure accountability. A true school measurement policy should rely on more than a single test score from a test that we all know students do not put their best effort into.

Another issue I would hope to see you address today is the statewide assessment program. We cannot keep bouncing from test to test. 

We need to make a decision on our testing program and stick with it for the long term.

Right now the Board has a policy on comment to begin end-of-course exams at the high school and revisit the Smarter Balanced in the other grades.  Who decided that was the best, most-effective approach for testing in our state?

The WVDE has a stakeholder group that was created to look at our state’s Assessment program. That group has not met nor have we been consulted about the policy that was placed on comment. Why end of course exams over something else?

I urge the board to take Policy 2340 off comment and that the stakeholder committee on Assessments be brought in to study the issue and come back with a long-term recommendation for statewide assessments.

Thank you for your time and the commitment that you have made to our students and our public schools.  

We look forward to working with you in the future and making our schools the best they can be.