With the support of the School Board and in alignment with the recommendations of the Student Assessment for Learning Taskforce, Superintendent Mark T. Porter is announcing that the Monroe County School District will temporarily suspend plans for the implementation of district created final exams at the middle and high school level and will expand plans to scale back formal testing at the elementary level as well. The statutory requirements for district created assessments eased with the passing of House Bill 7069 which was signed into law by Governor Scott on April 14. The change in the law removed language that required districts to create exams for any high school course that met a graduation requirement.
In addition, district created middle school final exams for English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies which have been used in Monroe for the past four years will be optional this Spring. This will allow teachers to choose between using the existing assessment or working with their principal in determining the best summative assessment for determining a student’s overall performance in each course. At the high school level the final exams that have been developed will also be available for teachers that choose to use them, or they too can work with their building principal in developing an agreed upon final assessment. The latter represents the practice that has been in place for the last several years.
At the elementary level the district had already scaled back plans for common assessment in grades K-2 as a result of changes to the statute. Now, in grades K-5 teachers have the flexibility to assess students through collections of student work over time, or portfolio assessment, or choosing an appropriate assessment in the areas of Science, Social Studies, and electives.
The move to scale back common assessments does not signal that the district plans to completely eliminate common assessments. The development of common assessments was a component of the district’s strategic plan for working toward high student performance in all schools and all classrooms. “Our approach to common assessments in the Monroe County Schools needs to be purposeful and well-reasoned. This one-year suspension of our district developed final exams will allow for additional teacher input and diversification of these assessment tools. Most importantly, we are restoring the authority of teachers to determine what is best for their students,” states Superintendent Porter. “By temporarily suspending the implementation of common final exams we will have the time to better examine the alignment of these tests with the content of the courses they are meant to measure. The test development process needs to involve our teachers and needs to include a well thought through system for collecting and interpreting the information we get from them,” said Mr. David
Murphy, Director of Accountability and Assessment. UTM President Holly Hummell-Gorman adds, “UTM supports this recommendation as being reasonable and providing some relief for not only our teachers, but more importantly our students.”
These changes do not alter requirements for students in grades 3-10 to participate in the state testing program in the areas of English-Language Arts, Mathematics and Science, nor does it eliminate the state developed end-of-course tests in Civics, Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, Algebra II, and United States History.
The Monroe County School District remains committed to continuing to explore methods of assessing student learning to improve instruction without creating unnecessary disruption to the teaching and learning process.