The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Education commissioner visiting Valdez next week

Meet and greet scheduled to address community concerns over testing


Education commissioner Michael Hanley will be in Valdez next week at the invitation of Jim Nygaard, superintendent of Valdez City Schools.

At the top of everyone's mind? The new AMP testing - Alaska Measures of Progress.

Statewide results from Alaska's new standardized tests show that fewer students are proficient in math and reading than previous tests indicated.

The fact that preliminary results from last year's AMP testing show that - on average - Alaska students are less proficient in the three Rs - and more - is no surprise to Nygaard.

"It's more rigorous," Nygaard said in an interview at the district office last month. "The scores aren't going to be as high for the first year or two."

Individual results for districts and students will not be released by the state until next month, but Nygaard says students and parents should be prepared to see different results than testing from past years.

"It's different standards," Nygaard said.

Hanley will meet and greet the public to discuss the new tests, new standards, and what they mean for Valdez students. The event will be held at Valdez High School Wednesday, Sept 30 from 3:45-4:30 p.m.

Traditional testing associated with AYP - and other measures of academic success such as attendance and graduation rates - are out the window and were replaced last year with AMP tests.

According to the Associated Press, results show less than one-third of Alaska's public school students in grades 3-10 as proficient in math. The older Standards Based Assessment results showed about two-thirds of those students as proficient in 2013-2014.

The English and language arts assessment on the Alaska Measures of Press indicated one-third of students were proficient. The older test indicated closer to three-quarters of students were proficient in the previous year.

Source: Alaska Dept. of Education

Nearly 100 educators analyzed the tests and the state standards over the summer to determine the cutoff scores for each of four proficiency categories. According to the state Department of Education and Early Development, categories three and four indicate students who are proficient, while categories one and two indicate students who are partially proficient.

The cutoff points will not become official until the state Board of Education votes to approve them at their next meeting.

Because the Standards Based Assessment and the Alaska Measures of Progress test toward different standards, Hanley said he believes the test results can't be compared.

``We are starting a new baseline ... we're really not going back there, and so these scores look very different than what we had in the past, but it would be inaccurate to say the scores dropped, because they're different scores,'' Hanley when the results were released last month.


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