DOBSON —Surry County Schools officials hope parents put the State Board of Education’s upcoming release of the 2013 Spring EOG and EOC assessments in context.
Director of Accountability and Technology Dr. Jeff Tunstall agreed with the predictions of colleagues across the state who are anticipating students seeing a lower proficiency score than in previous years. Tunstall stressed this is expected whenever standards and assessments changes are implemented.
“I feel chances are the scores from the End of Grade and End of Course tests will be low,” said Tunstall. “There are three reasons. There are new, more rigorous standards, new tests and we have new expectations for what it means to be proficient in these tests. What is important now to individual parents is what this means for their children.”
Tunstall said a lot of the reasoning behind the new standards is reacting to changes in the world. In essence, education has to “Google proof” itself in response to technology. He said an example of where it was enough for students to know the date Christopher Columbus sailed for America, students now must be able to explain what the political climate was like in 1492 and how that made the voyage possible.
Previously, proficiency standards addressed what students needed to succeed at the next grade level. Tunstall said students continued to grow academically in 2012-13 even though the tougher achievement standards will show fewer reached the higher levels.
“We are used to memorizing facts. Now there’s all these applications on phones and tablets,” Tunstall said. “Businesses are telling us they want graduates who can problem solve and work collaboratively. The new meaning of proficient is that a student is on track to be ready for career and college and that graduates are ready to begin in an internship or college.”
The State Board plans on releasing the information Thursday and Tunstall said if technology works as it should local school districts could start working with parents on understanding the results soon.
“This (understanding the new standards and proficiency) is going to take some time,” said Tunstall. “Most schools will have teachers call parents and talk them through the results. We want to truly show the level of our students. It’s important to understand a child in third grade has nine years to get ready. Getting proficient now on the tests means a child is on track and that’s important to parents with children in grades 3-10. If their child isn’t proficient they want to know what can be done to get them on track.”
Tunstall noted this is a transition year and the scores will not affect student’s grades or current placement. The 2012-13 scores are a baseline for new assessments and the state’s new accountability model.
“Parents can start by contacting their child’s teacher,” Tunstall said. “We want parents to be as educated as possible on what the new scores mean and what it means to their child’s future.”
He said principals have received information packets and a plan of communicating the results is in place. This effort will be helped in a large part by every employee in the system being trained on understanding what the scores mean. A letter explaining this will also be sent to parents as well as Public Service Announcements on radio.
Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves told the Board of Education at its regular meeting Monday the situation is “what it takes to get a level 3 (proficient) is much higher than with the old ABC accountability model.
“Our goal is to get this information to parents as soon as humanly possible with technology,” said Reeves. “We think this is important and we know parents are eager for this information. We have a communication plan so parents will be aware of these scores. Our teachers will rise to meet the challenge and make sure our students will succeed. It’s important we are raising the bar for students.”
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