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10-10-12 State Testing Contract Extended...Two Small Districts considering regionalizing

  • NJ Spotlight - NJ Extends Contract to Keep High School Tests for Two More Years…Switch to new assessments scheduled to begin in 2015
  • PARCC Assessment Design
  • Star Ledger -Two tiny N.J. schools might become part of new regional district…South Hunterdon Regional and Stockton Schools


NJ Spotlight - NJ Extends Contract to Keep High School Tests for Two More Years…Switch to new assessments scheduled to begin in 2015… A task force report looking at high school graduation requirements recommended last spring that the AHSA be terminated, instead using more targeted instruction to help students master the skills needed to pass PARCC exams. State officials reiterated yesterday that they plan to accept the task force’s recommendations, although details of how that new system will work remains uncertain.

 

By John Mooney, October 10, 2012 in Education|Post a Comment

While New Jersey moves toward a new school testing system in 2015, it is staying with a North Carolina-based company to conduct two more years of the state’s decade-old high school exit exam and its alternative test.

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The state Department of Education yesterday released documentation of its contract extension with Measurement Inc. that will have the company continue the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) through this school year and next, as well as the Alternative High School Assessment and the final years of the state’s biology test.

The total cost of the extension is $19.5 million over two and a half years, including some makeup testing in 2015. It also includes beefed up test security and cheating analysis that has become commonplace with such contracts.

The retention of Measurement Inc., finalized this summer, continues the company’s long-running relationship as the state Department of Education’s chief assessment vendor, earning the company more than $100 million in state contracts in the last five years.

Also administering the state’s elementary and middle school tests, the company in fiscal 2011 earned a total of more than $25 million from New Jersey, according to the most recent data from the state’s treasurer’s office.

That will end in three years as New Jersey is slated to move to a multi-state testing system known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in 2014-15. PARCC is a consortium of two dozen states that are devising computer-based exams in language arts and math, from third through 11th grades. The tests will be administered up to four times a year.

Whether and how those new high school tests will be required for graduation continues to be under consideration, state officials said, with various options being discussed. Among them would be requiring students to pass a majority of the tests or to pass just the 11th grade exams, they said.

Whatever the decision, state officials have said the requirement will not take effect until 2016, when the current fifth-graders reach high school.

Current state law requires a high school exit exam to be administered in 11th grade, but state officials and legislators have acknowledged the law may need to be changed to accommodate the new testing.

Once PARCC begins, the state is also expected to do away with the alternative assessment that currently provides students who failed any section of the HSPA with a different measure for showing their aptitude and skills.

A task force report looking at high school graduation requirements recommended last spring that the AHSA be terminated, instead using more targeted instruction to help students master the skills needed to pass PARCC exams. State officials reiterated yesterday that they plan to accept the task force’s recommendations, although details of how that new system will work remains uncertain.

In the meantime, current 10th- and 11th-graders will continue to take Measurement Inc.’s HSPA test, which more than million New Jersey high school students have taken before them, and will still have the safety net of the AHSA if they fall short.

State officials said Measurement Inc. would make no changes to the HSPA in the next two years to transition to the new testing and the Common Core State Standards from which they are devised.

The Measurement Inc. contract extension was approved in June without a public bidding process, due to its long-running history in developing and administering the exam, state officials said. Measurement Inc. has been operating on extensions since 2007, when its original contract expired.

“These services will allow the department to ensure the continuity of these state and federally mandated high school assessments,” read the department’s proposal for a waiver from public bidding requirements.

The waiver said the state did seek price quotes from specified vendors, including the Education Testing Service and NCS Pearson Inc., both previous testing vendors for New Jersey. It received one back from Pearson for an additional $4 million, the waiver read.

The waiver also listed a formal department complaint against Measurement Inc. in 2011, regarding “poor contract performance and unsatisfactory service.” A department spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, said yesterday it was related to problems in the delivery of test booklets and other supplies, and it was subsequently resolved.

The scope of work for the extension details the requirements of the contract, down to the number of testing booklets delivered and the extent of data reports on each student.

The biggest price point is the spring administration of the HSPA to an estimated 105,000 students, costing $5.4 million each time, or roughly $50 per student. The retesting in the fall and spring cost $840,000 and $1.3 million, respectively.

The contract also includes a contingency of one additional year of the full HSPA in the spring of 2015, if PARCC is not ready.

The biology tests costs $870,000 a year, according to the contract, almost half of that for the scoring of the test. The test is designed to have students complete written performance tasks using skills and knowledge they learned in biology class. The test is given at the end of the course, and is currently not a graduation requirement. Last year, fewer than 60 percent of New Jersey biology students passed the test.

The Alternative High School Assessment costs just shy of $500,000 a year, including the per diem costs of $200-$450 per day for 200 scorers.

Additional security included in the contract costs about $175,000 over the three years, more than half for new monitoring called “erasure analysis” that scans answer sheets for anomalies in answers changed from wrong to right. Measurement Inc. has begin such analysis of existing testing, and its findings have led to further investigations in dozens of schools.

 

 

Go to     http://www.parcconline.org/parcc-assessment-

PARCC Assessment Design

The PARCC assessment have six priority purposes, which are driving the design of the system

The priority purposes of PARCC Assessments are:

1.    Determine whether students are college- and career-ready or on track

2.    Assess the full range of the Common Core Standards, including standards that are difficult to measure

3.    Measure the full range of student performance, including the performance high- and low-performing students

4.    Provide data during the academic year to inform instruction, interventions and professional development

5.    Provide data for accountability, including measures of growth

6.    Incorporate innovative approaches throughout the assessment system

To address the priority purposes, PARCC will develop an assessment system comprised of four components. Each component will be computer-delivered and will use technology to incorporate innovations.

·         Two summative, required assessment components designed to:

o    Make “college- and career-readiness” and “on-track” determinations,

o    Measure the full range of standards and full performance continuum, and

o    Provide data for accountability uses, including measures of growth.

·         Two non-summative, optional assessment components designed to:

o    Generate timely information for informing instruction, interventions, and professional development during the school year.

·         A third non-summative component in English language arts/literacy will assess students’ speaking and listening skills

PARCC will also use technology throughout the design and implementation of the assessment system. The overall assessment system design will include a mix of constructed response items, performance-based tasks, and computer-enhanced, computer-scored items. The PARCC assessments will be administered via computer, and a combination of automated scoring and human scoring will be employed.

Star Ledger -Two tiny N.J. schools might become part of new regional district…South Hunterdon Regional and Stockton Schools

Published: Tuesday, October 09, 2012, 3:22 PM

By Terry Wright/Hunterdon County DemocratHunterdon County Democrat

South Hunterdon Regional, the smallest public high school in the state, and Stockton School, the smallest public elementary school, could become part of a regional district encompassing three municipalities.

Residents of the three will vote, possibly in September 2013, on the matter. Not only would it save taxpayers some money, but it could lead to better educational opportunities, advocates say.

South Hunterdon actually has both a middle school and a high school in the same building, with just more than 400 students, in grades 7-12, from West Amwell Township, Lambertville and Stockton. Last year South Hunterdon graduated a class of 55 students. The Stockton school, serving just the borough, has around 50 students preschool through grade 5.

“If all goes as it should, the public would get to vote in this, most likely at the end September 2013," said Steve Wolock of Lambertville, vice-chairman of the South Hunterdon County School District Regionalization Committee.

There’s a “remote chance” the vote would be during the regular election in November 2013, since holding a special election at another time costs the school districts money, he noted.

A state education Board of Review on Sept. 5 approved a petition to put two questions before the voters: dissolution of the South Hunterdon High district and forming a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 regional district.

A regionalization committee subgroup called the Increasing Community Awareness Team was formed to offer community members the opportunity to meet in small groups in an informal setting to discuss their concerns, questions and thoughts on the possible regionalization. Its next meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6-7 p.m. at the South Hunterdon Regional Library.

“We’re doing out best to get solid, unbiased information to everybody, and then the people can decide” if they want the schools consolidated, Wolock said. He said he hopes that ICAT "will evolve into a robust information-providing medium."

The Porzio Bromberg & Newman law firm, hired by the committee in July 2011 to study possible regionalization, presented in February its report, which outlines the many advantages of forming one larger district.

Michael Kozak, superintendent for both West Amwell and Lambertville schools, sits on the Regionalization Committee and ICAT, which he said was formed after it was realized that residents “were taking some of the recommendations as gospel.”

ICAT was created “to increase community awareness, and to serve as a conduit for the community, both ways, for the committee to get information out about activities, events, and, to receive feedback from the community.”

Serving with him on ICAT are: John Dupois, Dave Beaumont and Cindy Magill of West Amwell, John Livingston of Lambertville and Jim Gallagher of Stockton.

More information, including the full report, is available on the Regionalization Committee website.

 

 

 

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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