Apr 02, 2018
Combined English and Social Studies Assessment to Streamline Testing, Deepen Learning

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Education, in partnership with five local school systems, today submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to pilot an innovative, streamlined English and social studies assessment. By including knowledge and books on the test that align with the knowledge and books taught in Louisiana classrooms, the innovative assessment pilot aspires to help students achieve deeper learning and improve reading comprehension.

Louisiana's proposal responds to a provision in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act by which up to seven states, or consortia of states, are allowed to develop and pilot new, high-quality assessment formats in lieu of the existing statewide achievement tests. Louisiana was one of a limited number of states to submit a proposal. If its proposal is approved, Louisiana will have five years to develop, pilot and expand the assessment statewide.

Key features of Louisiana's innovative assessment pilot include:
  • Combining English and social studies tests to streamline state testing and to help students build their base of background knowledge;
  • Including passages on the test from books that students have read in class, rather than passages from books that students have not ever read before;
  • Having students complete several brief reading and writing assessments over the course of the year, rather than conducting only one test at the end of the year, to give educators real-time updates on students' progress; and
  • Allowing school systems to make choices as to which books and which assessments their students will take.
Louisiana's plan to develop an innovative assessment takes place in three phases, beginning first with grades 9 and 10. High school students in partner school systems will first take the innovative assessments in the 2019-2020 school year. Middle school and elementary school grades in the partner school systems will follow in later years.
The five initial partner school systems include Ouachita Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, and St. Tammany Parish, as well as KIPP Public Charter Schools and Collegiate Academies in Orleans Parish.
"Not only will this format give school systems the flexibility to use an assessment that reflects their curricular program, but also it will reinforce the kinds of content-rich academic instruction Louisiana wants to encourage statewide," said State Superintendent John White. "The pilot assessment will help make assessments more relevant and connected to the classroom for teachers and students, while still providing valid, reliable and transparent data on student achievement and growth."
"A test of the books adds relevance for the students. It allows them an opportunity to showcase their knowledge from a specific text," said Michel Delatte, English teacher and mentor at Lake Pontchartain Elementary School in St. John the Baptist Parish. "The smaller, interval assessments are a great way to build confidence in my students by allowing them to see the progress they are making throughout the entire year instead of waiting for test scores to come back the following year."
To read the pilot proposal abstract, click here.

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