Thinking About Testing

The Ides of March are upon us. Soon it will be May and students in grades 3-8, and 11 will be asked to do state mandated tests called the CAASPP which utilizes the SBAC. Folks should follow the links of the acronyms in order to learn what these tests aim to do. Basically, they ask students to go on the computer and respond to questions that test designers have created. There are less multiple choice type questions than in recent state mandated normative tests, rather, they ask students to type in their answers, do some true and false, and explain their answers in one way or another. They aim to assess whether students have met, exceeded, nearly met, or not met standards for skills and content knowledge that the common core standards  framework has determined should be known or accomplished at each grade level.

2016 is the second year these new tests have been administered and results provided to Californian students. These tests aim to provide information at the school level, class level, and individual student level. The tests are very rigorous while also adaptive. Adaptive, in this sense, means that the test questions change based on the prior answer provided by the student. Generally, if the child answers a question correctly it soon provides more challenging questions and if they answer incorrectly, they will soon receive a more basic question. The scores are reported both as scaled scores- a number in the 1000s and as levels; 4= exceeded standards, 3= met standards, 2+ nearly met standards, and 1= not meeting standards.

For Rio students, staff, and families, the District wants to express our encouragement for every child to do their best on each item and each test so that the tests can accurately assess what they aim to assess. We also want children to know that they should increase their levels over the course of their school years at Rio. This will indicate that they are improving and learning more about the standards the test aims to measure. Another and perhaps most important thing to think about these tests or any test, is that the test does not measure or assess what kind of person you are. Students should try their best, see what the results are, work to improve their skills, content, and practices in order to improve over time. The goal is GROWTH.

Students should also know that these tests measure some things and don’t measure others. The Rio School District is working on helping every child develop their 21st century learning practices; collaboration, communication, creativity, and caring. We are beginning to develop rubrics, performance tasks, and authentic assessments that provide students, teachers. schools, and families information about how their children are developing in relation to these aims.

Together, as school and community, we are setting our sites on improving as a learning organization that aims to help every child improve their learning at maximum possible rates and depths.

I am a son

I am a son of an orphaned son of immigrants and immigrants’ daughter.

I am a son of the low income class.

I am a son of high school graduates with no college degrees who raised children who all earned college degrees.

I am the son of truly wise and creative parents and grandparents.

I am the son of parents who loved children and loved family.

I am the son of all people.

I am the son of the earth and universe.

I am the son of the sun, stardust, carbon, recycled material and H2O.

I am a teaching son, taught by many sons and daughters.

I am a learning son.

I am a teaching son.

Teaching sons and daughters, who do you teach?

What sons and daughters do you teach?

Learning sons and daughters, who teach you? Which sons and daughters are your teachers? Your parents?

Along with all the nouns and content we aim to teach, and now in the 21st century, the verbs, skills, practices, processes we teach, what identities do we teach? who do we teach? What connections do we teach? What pursuit of connections do we teach?

I am a son of an orphaned son of immigrants and immigrants’ daughter.

I am the son of all people.

I am the son of the earth and universe.

vern and jackiejoan durante

 

 

 

Renaissance in Rio and Oxnard

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Recently we have engaged in a series of visits of community members and staff to Rio School District classrooms and Oxnard High School District Classrooms. These visits have brought visitors from the business community, school community, city government and recently city government officials and educators from Kuanianen, Finland. It was great to host Jarkko and Anders on multiple days of visits, discussion, and planning. In these last few days it has become ever more present that Rio and the city of Oxnard are in a true Renaissance. A cultural rebirth. Visits to Rio classrooms, ACE Charter High School Classrooms, Rio Mesa High School classrooms, the Mexican Consulate, along with great partnership discussions with software designers, the Ventura County Office of Education, retired educators, and the city of Oxnard recreation department evidenced that the Oxnard plain is experiencing a great period of growth and innovation. Each of these experiences was rich in evidence of 21st century learning combined with deep commitment to children, family, community at hyper-local and hyper-global scales.

We want to thank all those who were part of this amazing few days of partnership development and learning and invite others from within our community and around the world to engage with our city, community and set of school Districts that are leading, innovating, and doing amazing things that aim at what Anders came all the way from Finland to learn about, and that is creating a City wide learning program or a “Smart City.” I realized, in the last few minutes of our world wind visit, that Oxnard is a smart city in a renaissance, rebirth, aimed at getting smarter and better in the 21st century. Match that with the beautiful weather, geography, and wonderfully diverse and beautiful people that live and come here, and the city that was born from agriculture more than 100 years ago is poised to shape its next 100 years through a process of hard work and learning that place its schools-from preschools to Universities at the center of an amazingly creative and dynamic human energy.052068