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District to participate in testing pilot program



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February 27, 2013 - As the state of Michigan prepares to phase out the MEAP test (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) and enter into Common Core Standardized testing, it's also phasing out paper tests.

"All testing will be on-line," said Oxford Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. James Schwarz. "There won't be any paper versions of those tests."

Common Core testing will begin in spring of 2015. Common Core currently has testing for language arts and math. Science is supposed to be released this summer and social studies has not been given a release date.

Schwarz noted based on the samples they've seen, Common Core will be a "more rigorous" style of testing than the MEAP.

"They are integrating more real world multi-step questions by asking kids to rationalize and communicate in writing how they solved the problem versus just solving the problem," he said. "It's a higher level than what students are asked to do responding to MEAP tests, which are very much foundational fill in the bubble (to answer questions).

As a part of the preparation, Leonard Elementary and Oxford Middle School are participating in an Interim Assessment pilot program being conducted by the Michigan Department of Education. Schwarz said schools were chosen through application process.

"Elementary level, middle school level and high school level," he said. "They have certain numbers within each of those levels they are accepting."

Schwarz said the Common Core test is actually "two-fold." It not only gives "another snapshot" of student-based performance based on state benchmarks, but it's also the first attempt at "grandstand" testing in an online environment.

"It's really to test our technology infrastructure to see how well districts can deal with grand-scale assessment online," he said. "Those experiences will allow us to find out what glitches (there are), what kinks there are in our system, potentially, that we would need to fix in preparation for the Common Core assessments."

The third part of the pilot program will be getting kids used to taking tests online, according Schwarz.

"It is different to respond to questions on a screen than it is with a pencil and paper," he added. "There is an adjustment there (that) students need to make and we need to help them with that."

Lastly, Schwarz said online testing will allow for immediate feedback on scores.

"With online testing we should have results back to you 28 to 48 hours," he said.

"Currently with the MEAP, we take the test now and then we have to box up all those booklets and send them in. It's five to six months before we hear the results."

To learn more about the new test, please visit www.corestandards.org

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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