by Becky GINOS
FARMINGTON—It’s hard to think about school in the middle of July, but administrators are working hard to have everything in place for a seamless transition when it starts back up.
Students will see some changes in standardized tests as the Davis School District implements some updated legislative mandates. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Logan Toone gave an overview of the new assessments to the Board of Education at a recent meeting.
“There was a five year contract with AIR (American Institute for Research) that is up,” said Toone. “An RFP (Request for Proposal) was sent out for a bid on a new provider. Vendors selected were Questar for 3 – 8 grades and Pearson for 9 – 10 grades.”
The traditional SAGE test has been replaced with the RISE test and grades 9 – 10 will take the Utah Aspire Plus, he said.
“The beauty of the test is that it is predictive of the ACT,” said Toone. “It’s been customized so it will look and feel different than the traditional SAGE test. It feels more like the ACT with super specific areas like biology, science and physics. Before students might get an overall score in science. It’s targeted more to the college benchmark. It will be a different test experience for students.”
The RISE test is like the SAGE test but shorter. “There’s not a writing passage except in fifth and eighth grades. It’s not mandatory in the other grades,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed the opportunity to assess the kids in writing. As a district we’ll continue to focus instruction on writing because we feel it is important. It’s such a critical skill. As much as we want to limit the time of the test we hope it won’t draw down the attention to that area.”
The screen might have a different look and feel, he said, but the structure and questions should be pretty much the same. “For the 9 – 10 grades the test will be more college readiness as opposed to end of level.”
Toone said the district will implement the tests but they are mandated state assessments. However, the curriculum isn’t geared toward testing.
“The reality is what we test tends to be in our minds when we’re teaching,” he said. “But ultimately education is to prepare kids for college. We always say don’t let the tail wag the dog. Tests should not be driving instruction. They help us to make modifications as we see the need but we already have a strong emphasis on college prep at an early stage. We hope to pin point areas we need to focus on. We still have room to grow.”