A glitch in new state testing of kindergarteners | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A glitch in new state testing of kindergarteners

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 2:47 PM

A teacher wrote me this morning to say she'd heard the wrong version of a standardized test had been admnistered to kindergarten students statewide.

State Education Department spokesman Seth Blomeley says that's not true. But ... the wrong test preparation materials were distributed for an undetermined number of the 37,000 students who took the kingergarten test. That is raising questions about how to judge the test scores. The state Board of Education will discuss the issue May 16. The districts acquire prep material on their own, so the state doesn't know how many districts might be affected. Perhaps four or five districts or more, Blomeley said. Districts include Bentonville, Bearden, Cabot and Atkins.

Blomeley's full explanation follows:

This is the first year of a contract with Questar Assessment Inc. of Apple Valley, Minn. to provide testing for the state's public schools for grades kindergarten through 9th grade.

Questar subcontracts with Riverside of Chicago to provide the Iowa Test of Basic Skills to various grades, including kindergarten.

The kindergarten test was administered last week in most schools, although schools have until tomorrow (Friday) to give them.

So, this is the first year schools across the state are giving this new kindergarten test, which is a Level 6 Iowa test. The assessment has different types of testing material than the previously-given kindergarten test.

Transitions in education, as with a lot of endeavors, sometimes result in difficulties as everyone works to get the new system in place. This appears to be one of those instances.

A representative from Riverside sold some districts the wrong test preparation material. We believe this was in February when schools were getting ready to administer the test. The rep sold Level 5 materials, instead of Level 6 materials. Level 6 includes an additional reading comprehension section.

It's our understanding that the wrong prep material is no longer being sold.

The wrong prep material being sold to some districts had no impact on the actual test given. The correct test, Level 6, was still administered.

Also, some school officials are concerned about the Level 6 Iowa test being more difficult because of the new testing material.

Dr. Kimbrell is analyzing the situation based on feedback he's received from district officials. He wants to accurately assess student achievement. With that in mind, he is reviewing his options as far as the best method to score the test.

Additionally, the state board will discuss the test at its May 16 meeting.

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