Connect with us

Education

California Will Give A Short Version of Its Standardized Math and English Tests Next Spring

It’s actually identical to the short version that the board approved for spring of 2021, when most districts were still in distance learning.

Published

on

Young male writing on notebook at a desk, Photo courtesy of Santi Vedri

The “Smarter Balanced” standardized tests in math and English language arts that California students will take in the spring to measure their academic progress will have fewer questions and take less time than the pre-COVID-19 versions. But the test results to parents won’t provide as much information as in the past.

On September 9, the State Board of Education approved the shorter test that the California Department of Education recommended. The shorter version will give districts more flexibility in scheduling the tests, free up time for more instruction and reduce the potential for internet glitches with the fully online test, the department argued in making its case.

It’s actually identical to the short version that the board approved for spring of 2021, when most districts were still in distance learning.

At that time, given the option of administering Smarter Balanced or their own local assessment, many, if not most, chose a test other than Smarter Balanced last spring. It’s hard to know, however, because the state didn’t require that districts report their choices or the scores.

But the Smarter Balanced tests will be mandatory in spring 2022. The department says the short version of the combined math and English language arts tests will take 4½  hours for grades 3 to 5, 90 minutes less than before; 4 hours, 45 minutes for grades 6 to 8, 75 minutes shorter; and 5 ½ hours for 11th grade, 2 hours shorter.

Performance tasks — the longer problem-solving and research exercises on the test — will remain intact, while the multiple-choice questions will be cut in half.

Scores will be just as accurate, since the proportion of questions will be equally reduced in all areas of the tests, said Mao Vang, director of the department’s Assessment Development and Administration Division. And parents will receive their students’ scores along with their ranking — whether the scores were far below standard, below standard, at standard or above.

What parents won’t get is their child’s scores on components of the test: reading, writing, listening, and research and inquiry for English language arts; and concepts/procedures, problem solving, communicating reasoning and data analysis for math — at least next year.

This lack of detail is why a number of civil rights and groups advocating for low-income students opposed the short form.

“Losing key summative data makes it more difficult to gauge performance on key standards, and more difficult to tackle equity of opportunity and identify achievement gaps” across ethnic and racial groups, testified Lexi Lopez, communications manager for the advocacy group EdVoice. “During these times, schools should be providing parents with more information about student performance — not less.”

The Local Control Funding Formula Equity Coalition, representing a dozen statewide organizations, argued that a shorter test could actually result in more total testing time, because districts “may end up backfilling” information not provided by Smarter Balanced by administering additional local assessments.

Board President Linda Darling-Hammond

But districts should be using more “interim” tests and short or “formative” assessments throughout the year that “allow educators to drill down and see how students are doing within particular content and topic areas,” said board President Linda Darling-Hammond. That’s what the state should be encouraging, said Darling-Hammond, an emeritus professor in education at Stanford University.

Seven of the 12 states that use the Smarter Balanced tests used the shorter form last year, and many will probably do so again this year, said Tony Alpert, the executive director of Smarter Balanced.

The department staff didn’t say whether they’d recommend continuing with the short form in future years, although they indicated that might be the case. But they said that use of the short form in the spring would not interfere with plans by 2024 to add a “growth model” as a way to measure student test scores.

A growth model is a technically complex but useful method that all but a few states use to measure the progress over time of individual students’ test scores. The state board adopted it in May, five years after the idea was first raised.

Darling-Hammond and other board members said that it’s possible that the pandemic may create challenges for months and that a shorter version would provide more flexibility to administer the test. Reflecting first-hand views of a teacher and a student, board members Haydee Rodriguez and Rana Banankhah also said to use the short form.

“I want to echo what’s already been said. I’ll just say that with my experience as a classroom teacher, I’m in support of this recommendation,” said Rodriguez, a bilingual and bicultural high school teacher at Central Union High School, near the Mexican border.

“I found that this shortened test was absolutely beneficial to my class, especially those connecting from home who had trouble with tech issues, which definitely slowed them down. And I was one of those students,” said Banankhah, a senior at Modesto High. “Students with internet issues are probably going to be disproportionally socioeconomically disadvantaged and rural students. This recommendation would definitely improve equity among students.”

Smarter Balanced scores next spring will be publicly reported and applied to the California School Dashboard in 2022 for the first time in three years. The rating system measures improvement or lack of progress in schools and districts using multiple indicators. However, the dashboard’s color rating system ratings won’t reappear until 2023.

Activism

City Receives $3 Million Grant to Advance Violence Prevention Among School-Age Youth

Although the Department of Violence Prevention works to advance community outreach with life coaching, gender-based violence services, violence interruption, and community healing, this funding is focused on the family systems model, targeted specifically at Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) schools for school-site violence intervention and prevention teams.

Published

on

Guillermo Cespedes is the head of Oakland’s Dept. of Violence Prevention.
Guillermo Cespedes is the head of Oakland’s Dept. of Violence Prevention.

By Post Staff

The City of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention (DVP) has received a $3 million, three-year grant to support its violence interruption efforts.

In partnership with the Oakland Public Fund for Innovation, the Gilead Foundation awarded the grant to invest in health equity strategy, including a focus on prevention and intervention services to school-age youth, disrupting the pattern of violence.

“The Gilead Foundation is proud to support the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation and the City of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention,” said Kate Wilson, executive director of Gilead Foundation.

Chief of Violence Prevention with the City of Oakland Guillermo Cespedes said the grant will allow “DVP to strengthen families and protect its members from becoming involved in lifestyles associated with violence, while increasing educational outcomes and lifelong learning skills.”

Although the Department of Violence Prevention works to advance community outreach with life coaching, gender-based violence services, violence interruption, and community healing, this funding is focused on the family systems model, targeted specifically at Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) schools for school-site violence intervention and prevention teams.

Students who are routinely exposed to violence at home or in the community often experience toxic stress that leads to cognitive impairment, hyperactivity, and attention deficits that make it challenging to succeed in the classroom.

Exposure to violence also contributes to lower school attendance and a higher likelihood of suspension, which further promotes disengagement from school.

Using a public health approach, the DVP will strengthen family, school, and community contexts for OUSD school students living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence, to reduce their exposure to violence and increase their chances of succeeding academically.

Continue Reading

Activism

Oakland Promise and Kaiser Support Promising Student

Kaiser Permanente gave a significant grant to Oakland Promise, helping it reach a $50 million goal for its Generation Fund, which will offer college savings accounts and scholarships to all low-income Oakland public school students while they’re pursuing college degrees or trade certificates.

Published

on

Kaiser Permanente partners with Oakland Promise to cultivate mentor program, scholarships, academic guidance. Pictured, Kaiser Permanente mentor Ingrid Chen, MD, at right, with Sandy La, who begins her second year of college this fall.
Kaiser Permanente partners with Oakland Promise to cultivate mentor program, scholarships, academic guidance. Pictured, Kaiser Permanente mentor Ingrid Chen, MD, at right, with Sandy La, who begins her second year of college this fall.

By Carla Thomas

When Sandy La applied to two programs while a senior at Oakland High, she had no idea the Oakland Promise program would truly reward her for being a promising student on the rise. Now a successful student at UC San Diego majoring in Public Health, La has spent over 12 months mentored by Kaiser Permanente Oakland psychiatry resident Ingrid Chen. For Chen, mentoring a student and just being there for her was key.

Kaiser Permanente gave a significant grant to Oakland Promise, helping it reach a $50 million goal for its Generation Fund, which will offer college savings accounts and scholarships to all low-income Oakland public school students while they’re pursuing college degrees or trade certificates.

“The program is very well organized, and very accessible for busy working people,” said Dr. Chen. Kaiser Permanente is partnered with Oakland Promise to cultivate mentor programs, scholarships and academic guidance.

La was one of the lucky few of 300 to 400 Oakland high school students who received college scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $16,000 each year from Oakland Promise, and Dr. Chen is one of the 34 mentors from Kaiser Permanente who help keep them in college, often forming long lasting friendships.

“When I first moved to Oakland in 2020 to start my residency, the social justice movements spotlighting racial inequality in our society inspired me to help the community,” said Dr. Chen. “My parents are first generation Taiwanese immigrants, so I have a heart for immigrant families and other groups that are often marginalized in society.”

Dr. Chen makes herself available to La and one other student to talk about anything and help them identify opportunities in college and beyond.

“It’s been great to have someone to talk to and support me,” said La, who says the extra support really matters.

Dr. Chen says it has been great getting to know La and supporting her. La says the support has been a great confidence booster and she now pays it forward while counseling incoming freshmen. “I’m majoring in public health because I want to make a difference in health care and solve some of the disparities in the field,” said La.

Kaiser Permanente is also a founding sponsor of Oakland Promise, said Yvette Radford, Kaiser Permanente Northern California vice president of External and Community Affairs. “Oakland Promise is creating brighter futures for children and families by supporting children at every stage in their lives, from the day they’re born to the day they graduate from college,” said Radford. “This innovative public-private partnership is helping Oakland’s children become more successful in school and in life.”

Continue Reading

Activism

Meet the Woman Who Spearheaded Equity, Inclusion in the Business World

Among many things, Mason Tillman Associates conducts disparity studies that show how equitably or inequitably governments distribute contracts to outside businesses. “We have been able to improve the lives of many minority and woman business owners,” said Eleanor Ramsey, president and CEO of the firm Mason Tillman Associates, adding that the work has been helping them secure contracts and improve profitability.

Published

on

Eleanor Ramsey, president and CEO of Mason Tillman Associates, a consulting firm that shines the light on unfair practices in government contracting nationwide. (Pat Mazzera/Mason Tillman Associates via Bay City News)
Eleanor Ramsey, president and CEO of Mason Tillman Associates, a consulting firm that shines the light on unfair practices in government contracting nationwide. (Pat Mazzera/Mason Tillman Associates via Bay City News)

By Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Eleanor Ramsey, president and CEO of the firm Mason Tillman Associates, has been creating change for Black people and other minorities long before she started consulting.

In an interview last Wednesday at her office in downtown Oakland, Ramsey said she first worked on easing racial conflict by serving on the student relations council in high school. The goal was to integrate the lunchroom in a school that consisted of 80% white students and 20% Black students.

Ramsey went on to get a doctorate in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and has been operating Mason Tillman Associates since starting it in 1978. Her firm’s name is a combination of Ramsey’s maiden name, Mason, and Tillman, a last name by which her husband was known.

Among many things, Mason Tillman Associates conducts disparity studies that show how equitably or inequitably governments distribute contracts to outside businesses.

“We have been able to improve the lives of many minority and woman business owners,” Ramsey said, adding that the work has been helping them secure contracts and improve profitability.

Mason Tillman Associates’ statistical research has revealed institutional practices systemically limiting minority businesses’ access to public contracts.

The company’s disparity study research and policy recommendations have helped identify and modify governments’ practices. Consequently, billions of dollars have been distributed more fairly in over 150 cities, counties, and states since 1978, she said. For example, New York State’s current minority business law is predicated on a Mason Tillman disparity study.

Oakland officials were at first reluctant to release a disparity study for their city, causing an outcry from the Black community. The study — kicked off by Ramsey’s firm — was eventually released in November 2020. Mason Tillman Associates plans to update it following a year of talks.

The company is also credited with preparing the nation’s first competitive disparity study, which was done for Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1990.

Disparity studies aren’t just the right thing to do, they’re the law. Following a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson, disparity studies must be prepared to document the need for awarding contracts to minorities. Lawmakers can no longer give preference to minorities without evidence from a study.

Ramsey suspects 300 to 400 studies have been conducted since the SCOTUS decision.

She has also been at the forefront of breaking through ceilings for businesswomen.

“The notion of the glass ceiling was very real,” she said, adding that for Black women, the ceiling was made of “concrete.”

Starting Mason Tillman Associates gave her an occupation when doors were closed for Black women following her attempt to become a university professor, she said.

“You walked a fine line,” said Ramsey.

Women could not come off as too intelligent without offending men. She refined the art of levity to make people feel comfortable.

Before Mason Tillman Associates, Ramsey worked as a flight attendant for the now-defunct yet iconic Pan American Airways. She was the second Black female flight attendant to be hired by Pan Am, which was the only international carrier in the U.S. in the 1960s. Pan Am was known for its stewardesses — now called flight attendants, another positive change for women in the workforce.

Ramsey managed to earn her doctorate in 1977 while raising six children. Then she applied for jobs as a professor and neither UC Berkeley nor the University of Colorado Boulder would hire her. Society wasn’t ready for a Black female professor, she said.

Her experience has taken her on some interesting journeys. While living in Boulder, she secured a contract with the National Park Service to investigate whether Wilberforce, Ohio, was once part of the underground railroad. That, she said, was the start of her consulting business.

Since starting Mason Tillman Associates 44 years ago, Ramsey has trained many professionals in the company’s Oakland headquarters. The firm continues to help redefine managers’ views of Black businesses in agencies nationwide.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending