Archive for Thursday, April 17, 2014

Basehor-Linwood school board considers opting out of state assessments

The Basehor-Linwood school district's administrative offices, and the school board meeting room, are located at 2008 N. 155th St.

The Basehor-Linwood school district's administrative offices, and the school board meeting room, are located at 2008 N. 155th St.

April 17, 2014

— The Basehor-Linwood USD 458 School Board considered opting out of the state's reading and math assessment tests because of technical difficulties with the Kansas University testing website.

USD 458 is not the only district in the state experiencing frustration with the website as three other districts have already opted out of the testing.

Kansas education officials are already considering not releasing the results of annual state math and reading tests after the computer problems and cyberattacks have plagued the administration of this year’s exams, according to an Associated Press report.

Officials have also said test results won’t be used in any way if officials are concerned they might give an invalid picture, especially in light of decisions by some school districts to delay the tests or interrupt the process.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Boyd told the school board that about 1,800 tests still have to be taken by students across the district.

There are 12 days left before the initial testing deadline.

"It's possible we may not get through all of the assessments," Boyd said.

Blank screens, questions with no answers, online calculators that won't work and multiple examples of students finishing the test only to lose several of their answers have plagued the testing process so far, Boyd said.

This past Thursday, Boyd said, the testing was completely shut down due to the glitches.

"When do we say, enough is enough?" asked school board member Spencer Fritz.

The state is trying the new, more technologically advanced, computerized tests this spring for the first time. But when schools started giving the tests in March, technical problems prevented students from taking them.

With just 12 days left to administer the tests, the system would have to be beyond these glitches for Basehor-Linwood to complete their tests.

Several of the board members voiced their concerns with continuing the tests that may not even be counted as valid.

“I would think its more important to keep the kids in the classroom," said Jeané Redmond. "In my opinion, I think we’ve given it a great try and now it’s time to move on.”

The risk, according to state education officials, the state faces if districts begin opting out of the tests is that they may drop below waiver levels and lose federal funding.

Boyd said that the tests were improving on April 14 and the system seems to be past the worst glitches. He told the board that, if anything, this is practice for students, staff and everyone involved for next year.

“Basically, we’re giving a field test," Boyd said.

The board decided to let the schools continue testing as long as the system continues improving. Boyd will provide the board with weekly updates and the board will be able to make the decision to opt out if the testing does not improve.

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