State to develop statistical rubric to help analyze data against new information

With the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System tests on their way out and Smarter Balance on its way in, administrators in the Red Clay Consolidated School District are preparing for a paradigm shift.

“That’s the first thing you’re concerned about as educators,” said Red Clay Superintendent Mervin Daugherty. “We have a change in how these scores are going to look.”

Daugherty said he’s confident, however, that the staff and student body will rise to a challenge that may mean a harder test, but less testing overall.

The Smarter Balanced testing system, expected to be in place for the 2014-15 school year, will be a challenge for both students and teachers, Daugherty said, as the test presents questions that require a deeper thought process.

“Not only how they read the question, but how they respond to the question,” he said. “I think they’ll adapt quickly to it, and I hope we can maintain the course of this for several years.”

Daugherty said that he is not a fan of state required testing, which presents a snapshot view of one or two days of student performance, when the system requires 180 days of instruction.

“I think our parents realize that,” he said.

Daugherty said that DCAS data collected from previous years would likely still be valid, as the Department of Education works to create a statistical rubric to aid in analyzing that data.

Better and more accurate pictures of student progress will emerge within two to three years of administering the new test, Daugherty said, which will be given once in the spring and not three times per year like the DCAS.

“Again, it all depends on the validity and reliability of the data,” Daugherty said. “You can’t measure everything, but our students are advancing the way we want them to.”

In addition to the “rigorous administration” of the new test, Daugherty said the district has also spent the past two to three years also preparing for the required Common Core State Standards.

Daugherty said that overall, scores have continued to rise in the past few years.

“I think our teachers and parents all understand that we’re not just working through one grade – we’re working through a system,” he said. “As you go through that system, you’ll see improvements every year. And that’s the part of the data we like to see, it’s very powerful to see as you do it.”