New tests and curriculum mean a lot of work, money and stress

By Doug Keeler
Midway Driller Editor

Good-bye STAR, hello MAPP.
The STAR tests that provoked anxiety, joy, relief or consternation for the past several years are being replaced with a new testing format and a new way of testing students  but the anxiety is still there – for students, teachers, principals and administrators alike.
Instructional curricula is undergoing a sea change as schools shift to the Common Core Curricula and learning will be measured by MAPP (Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress) instead of STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting).
The new test will be more demanding on students as instead of just answering questions mostly true-false or multiple choice,  students will be required to explain answers, show how they reached their answers and do it all by computers.
Julie Graves, the Taft City School District's director of categorical programs, explained the new system to the TCS Board of Education Tuesday night with some help from Superintendent Ron Bryant.
Board member Les Clark  was concerned that the entire testing system is changing and  districts can't measure student achievement compared with the past.
Graves and Bryant said there is no way to compare the  new educational curriculum and the old one.
“It's like apples and oranges,” Graves said. “We are not going to be allowed to compare scores.”
Bryant put it like this:
“You've been training for the 400 in track and field and now you're running the mile.  They expect more from the students.”
The testing anxiety is already here.
“It's definitely going to be a challenge,” Bryant said. “I think the principals are definitely  feeling the anxiety.”
They aren't the only ones.
MAPP testing will be done  after 66 percent of the instructional days in the school year, much earlier than the STAR tests .
“That's a huge dilemma,” Bryant said. “I'm concerned that kids aren't going to have enough  instructional days to do well on these assessments.”
All the tests are going to be done on computers, and will not only test students knowledge of the subject matter, but their  ability to use a computer.
Getting all the computers needed to test all the students is a challenge for many districts, Taft included.
“It's a huge process,”Bryant said. “Its not only going to take a lot of money, its going to take a lot of  work.”
Graves spoke at  length on the legislation that mandated the new testing and the process.