The Aug. 27 article In Miami-Dade, every day is a school testing day contained a number of inaccuracies regarding student assessment:
The 2015-2016 testing calendar, the article’s theme, outlines testing windows whereby schools are authorized to formally assess students. These windows are provided to allow flexibility in administering assessments with minimal disruption to instruction. They do not accurately reflect the amount of time an individual student spends testing in school.
The writer suggested Miami-Dade “tacked on” additional assessments, such as the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) and i-Ready. The SAT, administered to kindergartners for years, is considered a gold standard nationally in the measurement of student achievement. i-Ready is the district-selected assessment that replaced the state-required FAIR assessment when technical problems at the state level caused it to be discontinued last year. In addition to meeting state progress monitoring requirements, i-Ready serves as a formative assessment.
Just like routine check-ups are essential to our health, so are formative assessments for teaching and learning, since they provide vital information to inform instruction.
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We pride ourselves in providing students with multiple opportunities for success. The testing calendar, for example, provides four chances to demonstrate grade-level proficiency for third graders in danger of being retained because of state mandates. This doesn’t mean every third grader takes the four tests. These are additional ways students show proficiency so they can be promoted midyear to fourth grade and catch up to their peers. Also listed in the calendar are assessments, like the ACT, which high school students who failed the reading test may take in order to receive concordant scores and graduate on time.
Also omitted from the article was the distinction between assessments that all students take, like reading or math FSA, and assessments taken only by eligible students, like Advanced Placement exams for students taking AP classes or the ACCESS exam for English Language Learners.
Last year, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spearheaded an aggressive decommissioning of assessments, which included eliminating 290 state-required district-developed End-of-Course Exams, resulting in up to an additional 260 minutes of instructional time. Our aggressive campaign to curtail testing was highlighted in a Washington Post article last April. Our district has set the standard in optimizing instructional time and this year is no different.
Marie Izquierdo, chief academic officer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Joseph Gebara, president, Miami-Dade Council PTA/PTSA, Miami