State board President Mike Green hopeful about test changes

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State board President Mike Green hopeful about test changes
BY Alex Thomas, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – With public comment now open, the West Virginia Board of Education is hearing from West Virginians about a proposal to replace the Smarter Balanced assessments with better end-of-course exams that are connected to students’ final grades.

The Smarter Balanced assessments are aligned to the Common Core standards for English and Math. Public school students from grades 3 through 11 take the exam at the end of the school year.

The exams are not connected to students’ grades or graduation requirements, and statistics have shown students have been rushing through the exam.

Additionally, the board voted to drop Common Core in Dec. 2015, and new standards — the West Virginia College- and Career- Readiness Standards — took effect in July 2016.

Board president Michael Green said on MetroNews “TalkLine” that while questions loom regarding how new tests would fit in with the state standards, the board hopes change is made to create better and more assessments.

“I think our teachers will embrace this,” Green said. “It’s going to be much more aligned with specific West Virginia standards, and I think they will embrace the fact that we are going to go back to measuring our kids based on the standards that we’ve created in our state.”

Green said while there are issues of how to compare West Virginia students with those around the country, the first priority is creating exams that fit state standards.

“As everybody knows, we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on making sure we have West Virginia College- and Career- Readiness Standards,” Green said. “Now it is important for us to create an assessment that is specifically aligned to those standards.”

The test change would be the third in recent years; Smarter Balanced replaced WESTEST2 standardized tests at the start of the 2014-15 academic year.

According to Green, teachers have raised concerns about yet another dramatic change to assessment. However, he said starting the move towards change will result in a dialogue between the board and educators about creating better exams.

“We’re actually hoping and insisting upon the fact that we get participation from our teachers,” Green said.

The board is hoping to begin replacing Smarter Balanced assessments by the start of the 2017-18 school year.