School district prepares for new state tests

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Sunday, February 22, 2015 9:59pm
  • News

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District students will take the Alaska Measures of Progress, or AMP, standardized test on March 30. 

The assessment is now a statewide requirement for grades three through 10 and is meant to evaluate a student’s grasp of Alaska English Language Arts and Mathematics standards, according to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. 

“In contrast to the Adequate Yearly Progress standardized bubble tests, AMP testing is online and adaptive,” said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff. “The real-time results will measure student strengths and weaknesses, and be adaptive in order to generate activities to address these areas.”

The data taken from the tests is meant to assist educators in making adjustments for their students within the classroom, Erkeneff said. As students take the tests through out their school career, teachers can develop their in-class assessments and activities to further individualize how they help their students, she said.

“Computer-based assessments are able to adjust the difficulty of questions to a student’s responses and provide greater score precision,” according to the department of education. “For example, if a student performs well on a set of questions with intermediate difficulty, she will be presented with a more challenging set.”

The state now requires all graduating students to have taken the WorkKeys, SAT or the ACT, said school counselor LaDawn Druce, who helps to coordinate the tests through out the school district. 

Governor Sean Parnell signed legislation on May 13, 2014 that repealed the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam, and replaced it with the student’s choice of the SAT, ACT or WorkKeys, according to the Department of Education. The Kenai school district chose to require students to take WorkKeys or the SAT, and the state pays for the testing, Druce said. 

The school district does not chose when the tests are administered, Druce said. The dates are set on a national level. If students cannot make the dates, they are given vouchers that will allow them to schedule a separate time to take the test, Druce said. 

The completely new format has resulted in some implementation challenges for establishing security measures, Erkeneff said.  

The test was developed specifically for the state by the Achievement and Assessment Institute of Kansas, according to the Department of Education. 

The model was based off of standards adopted by the state in 2012.  If schools do not have the means to administer the tests electronically there is a paper and pencil option, according to the department. 

The online format is indicative of the state’s long-term move toward electronic testing, according to the Department of Education. 

 Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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