TPS Reduces District Required Tests by Half

Today, Superintendent Deborah A. Gist announced a reduction of the amount of time students at Tulsa Public Schools spend on district-required tests by 54 percent. Dr. Gist made the announcement at a Board of Education meeting, which was attended by teachers who served on the district’s Assessment Study Group. Dr. Gist accepted the group’s recommendations to curb over-testing by reducing the frequency of some tests, eliminating one entirely and by removing the district requirement to implement others. This cut the overall time spent on testing in the district by half.

“Assessments are an extremely important tool for teaching and learning, yet we must make sure that the way in which we monitor progress through assessments is as focused and streamlined as possible,” said Dr. Gist. “We need to have our teachers, along with their school leaders, actively involved in these decisions.” Dr. Gist added that “parents and teachers have been clear in their feedback that our district overstepped in the number of tests that were required by the district.”

The recommendations that the district will implement for the 2015-16 school year include the following:

All “check-ins” (Pre/Post Unit Assessments) are optional. “Check-ins, previously mandated by the district, are aligned to the district curriculum, state blueprints and state assessments,” said Chief Academic Officer Tracy Bayles. “Check-ins are a valuable tool for progress monitoring and will continue to be available as a resource. Teachers and principals will now have the flexibility to use them and/or to use other progress monitoring tools.”

The Measures of Academic Progress () English Language Arts test for 3rd graders is eliminated. The math and reading tests are given to students in grades K-3. Previously, third grade students also took the English Language Arts. This test is being eliminated because it was determined to be less valuable for teachers.

The Scholastic Reading Inventory for secondary students is reduced to three times per year. The Scholastic Reading Inventory is used to determine a student’s reading-level (Lexile). Secondary students will now take the inventory three times a year instead of four times a year as they did previously.

Professional development opportunities will be available to teachers on the meaning, use and availability of assessment data. “We need to do a better job of supporting our teachers and principals on the use of assessment data to guide their decision-making,” said Dr. Gist. “We will continue to offer literacy and numeracy summits each summer, as well as professional learning opportunities throughout the year. We’ll be sure these include a focus on using reading and math assessment data to inform instruction.”

The Assessment Study Group first convened in January 2015 to examine the impact of district assessments. The study group held five meetings between January 7 and February 2, 2015. Dr. Gist met with the study group twice this summer. Teacher representatives from all grades were selected based on recommendations by Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association and principals.

Updated 08-04-2015

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