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July 15, 2008

Yesterday, I listened to a podcast interview with Terry Davidson, the Director of the Annual Michigan School Testing Conference

He had some very interesting thoughts on the “new” focus on testing. In Saline, we are adding or reviewing options to add assessments (a.k.a. tests) at various levels. Last year we implemented the Plan and Explore tests at the high school level. Our interest in doing so is to gain information that can be used here to support instruction.

For example next year, we are implementing the NWEA assessment to get norm-referenced data on our students. This information will be beneficial for staff and families to make better instructional decisions for each student.

In my opinion, Mr. Davidson’s quote below sums up both the concern and opportunity with regard to testing in the current political environment.

“Ultimately, any test data that are collected, as far as I am concerned, need to be justified, and the primary justification for it, if I am a School Superintendent, has to do with gathering assessment data that help local classroom teachers make intelligent decisions about the effectiveness of their instruction, that’s number one.” Terry states.

“I understand the State wants data and I think there are ways to get that, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that if we take teachers away from their primary task and don’t arm them with the kind of data necessary to make intelligent decisions about what’s effective instruction for each and every student in their class, we have lost the battle.”

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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