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

Editor, Valdez Star 

New AMP test results released by the state

The mandated test is under fire by local representative in Juneau


Source: Valdez City Schools

The graph shows how Valdez students stacked up against others statewide in the new AMP test.

The Alaska Measures of Progress test - commonly known as AMP - is under fire in Juneau as results of the rigorous test were released earlier this week.

Melissa Reese, the district's test coordinator, said that Valdez students performed well on the test when compared to the statewide results.

Reese, who is also principal of Hermon Hutchens Elementary School, told the Board of Education Monday night at its regular meeting that individual student test results will be available to parents and principals later this week.

The test was mandated by the legislature to replace testing under the federal No Child Left Behind act. It is administered to students in grades three through 10 and tests in language arts and math.

Early in the school year, district superintendent Jim Nygaard warned parents and students in Valdez that AMP test results would likely be lower compared to the standardized tests given in the past.

He expressed concern that the test was mandated to be used as a tool to evaluate teachers even though there was no benchmark to compare student achievement with AMP results.

Board president Joe Prax said he was dubious of the value of AMP testing.

Rep. Jim Colver, who represents Valdez in District 9, is not a fan of AMP testing either.

"This test needs to be thoroughly vetted before we continue," he said at a press conference last week when he announced that he was crafting new legislation to discontinue AMP testing.

Colver criticized AMP on a number of levels. Four instance, he said that if a student scores below proficiency in math or language arts, it does not provide teachers or parents with information regarding where the child is weak or strong.

"The pushback from the districts is that the tool doesn't give value for letting educators know where students need to improve," Colver said. "If they are telling us it isn't of value, then why are we going through the exercise?"

He also said the test roll outs eat valuable teacher time and in some districts it hindered regular instruction. This is due to the fact that the test must be given on a computer and some districts had to close their computer labs to regular instruction.

"I haven't been convinced it improves student learning," he said, suggesting that MAP testing could be a better fit for Alaska students statewide.

He also bemoaned the fact that it takes several months for districts to receive the results of AMP tests. MAP tests give immediate results. It is also designed to show detailed data on a student's strengths and weaknesses. As an example, a student with a low math score maybe weak in only one area, like multiplication, but highly proficient in and adding subtraction and division. MAP gives educators that information immediately.

The Valdez School District is already using MAP tests. MAP - which stands for Measures of Academic Progress - is not currently given to all Alaska students.

MAP tests are given to students throughout the school year to help tailor learning to the needs of the student.

"Let's do something we know works," Colver said.

It is hoped the draft legislation will be in place for consideration when lawmakers convened in Juneau at the end of year.


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