Superintendent's Message - March, 2014
Testing Season Is Here
Hello Mt. Diablo Families, Staff and Community:
The testing season is about to begin. Here at Mt. Diablo, we are switching both our content and our delivery to the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessments. The Smarter Balanced Assessment testing window will be from April 10th until May 21st. In addition to the new Smarter Balanced Test, we also will still have our CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam 10-12th grade) given this month on March 18th and March 19th and the Early Assessment Program (11th grade) given at high school sites during the testing window. In the first weeks of May, we will administer the Advanced Placement tests.
People have asked me why we are changing from the California Standards Test to the Smarter Balanced Test. Students who have been asked for years via the State Assessments to recall facts are now also being asked to think critically and communicate their thinking. This testing change will reflect what teachers are teaching in the classroom. These new tests have been designed to measure problem solving and thinking in a better way. One major goal of this new curriculum is to prepare students for the increasingly challenging global workforce. Another major goal is to make our students thinkers who can adapt and adjust to our rapidly changing world.
The new Smarter Balanced Assessments will test students via a computer program designed to gradually assess their knowledge with a series of increasingly difficult questions. The goal of this test is to minimize many of the problems that have plagued standardized testing for years like:
· Which answers were just good guesses?
· What do students really know?
· How far are they from getting the right answer?
The new tests are designed to give students opportunities to show they understand concepts. These tests are a better tool for educators to identify where we can more effectively increase support to students and schools. This year during the window of April 10th until May 21st, students will rotate in to take the new test. The test will be given to grades 3-8 and 11th grade only. Students with disabilities may take the modified test. English Learners who have been in the country for less than a year will be exempt. The test is approximately 3 -4 hours for all portions.
Help Your Child Do Well On Tests:
Here are some ways to help your student do well on tests (these tips are also good as a daily routine):
1. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep before every test date.
2. Provide a light, healthy breakfast on test day.
3. Have your child arrive to school on time.
4. Send your child off to school with confidence-building words of praise and support: You will do great! Believe in yourself! You can do it!
5. Remind your child to read directions carefully and look at all of the answers before choosing one.
6. Tell your child to check his or her answers before turning in the test.
7. Please do not schedule trips, dental, or medical appointments, or early pickups on testing days.
Better Preparation for the 21st century Skills
Mt. Diablo Unified is excited about the move to what we hope will be a more challenging, relevant curriculum. The state has provided 6.39 Million to our district with Assembly Bill 2319 (Bonilla). We have been working with an advisory group on how to best allocate these funds to support our new efforts. Teachers, Administrators, and Classified Staff have worked hard to prepare for this change and continue to do so. Collectively, our departments are creating professional development for teachers, creating data systems to support the testing change, and are working through our Measure C Bond and our technology department to provide the technology necessary for both the new curriculum and the test administration. We know the implementation will not be easy but the impact on our students should be worth all of our efforts.
Nellie Meyer, Ed.D.