US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan affirmed his support for a delay in using new test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a key recommendation proposed by NASSP in May. States and districts were also asked to evaluate the number of tests being given to students and how educators could access assessment data to improve teaching and learning.
“We encouraged states to move a whole lot of changes simultaneously,” wrote Duncan in a blog post on ed.gov. “But in how this change happens, we need to listen carefully to the teachers, principals and other educators who are living it on a daily basis.”
States that request the new flexibility would push back until 2015-2016 the time when student growth measures based on new state assessments become part of the educator evaluation systems.
The policy brief on college and career ready standards (CCRS) adopted by the NASSP Board of Directors in May called for federal policymakers to delay for two years the use of new assessment results for high-stakes accountability purposes. A two-year transition period will allow for sufficient experience will a fully validated and implemented assessment system consisting of pre-assessments, performance-based assessments, and summative assessments all accompanied by meaningful and timely feedback to teachers and schools.
The success of the new college and career ready standards depends on purposeful and well-supported efforts. Those efforts set reasonable expectations for educators and build their capacity to implement the standards. Policymakers at all levels have a role in promoting those efforts.
“Strong school leadership is pivotal to creating a culture of high expectations for each student,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director of NASSP, which continues to support high common standards across states. “But principals across the nation report concerns about the implementation of the new standards in their states and the inadequate training they have received to help them ensure that their teachers are able to change instructional practices.”
Titled Policy Recommendations for College and Career Ready Standards in Secondary Schools, the brief includes specific recommendations for policymakers at federal, state, and district levels. They include the abandonment of punitive provisions under the No Child Left Behind Act, delaying consequences for test results for a reasonable transition period, building a solid infrastructure for online testing, and adopting 5- to 10-year plans for complete implementation.