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Aspire out, Scantron in for MCS student assessments

MADISON – Alabama State Board of Education dropped ACT Aspire testing as the State Assessment for grades 3-8 and 10 in fall 2017 and Scantron is the temporary assessment.

To replace Aspire Assessment, the state board is requiring the Scantron assessment (formerly Global Scholar) for all Alabama school districts for the 2017-2018 school year. The board eventually will select a new, permanent assessment.

Bob Lipinski, Coordinator of Auxiliary Services for Madison City Schools, said the Scantron guides were administered to all students in grades 3-8 in September 2017. However, the state is not requiring the test for students in grade 10 this year.

“This (Scantron) test will establish a baseline score for each student,” Lipinski said. “The students will take the Scantron test again April 16 through May 4, 2018. The purpose of the second Scantron test is to gain an achievement and learning gains score for each student.”

In choosing Scantron, the state board met its deadline to turn in the federal plan, “Every Student Succeed Act,” or ESSA.

In 2014, Aspire replaced the Alabama Reading and Math Test or ARMT and served to validate instruction and teaching practices. At that time, numerous education leaders doubted that Alabama school districts could cope with a nationally normed test and predicted that scores would falter. However, Madison students excelled in Aspire results.

ACT Aspire was hailed as the first digital, longitudinal assessment system to fully connect student performance from elementary grades through high school. ‘Longitudinal assessment’ refers to “assessments that track student performance consistently from elementary through graduation,” Lipinski said.

Madison students scored well above the national average in math, reading and science, compared to students in the same grade across the country, according to ACT.

In designing Aspire, the ACT company measured students’ learning over time, along with classroom assessments. Teachers could see a student’s progress toward specific learning standards and then cold adjust instruction.

“Educators have warned that a change in assessment disrupts stability in measuring student proficiency and gauging growth and progress. Two changes in three years present major challenges,” Mary Scott Hunter said. Hunter, a member of Alabama Board of Education, represents Limestone, Madison, Jackson, Dekalb and Etowah counties in District 8.

Dr. Ed Richardson, interim state superintendent, has advised the state board that “a quality assessment is essential to capture reliable student achievement data.” Parents and community residents, in addition to students and teachers, benefit from having a quality assessment to document how students perform.

“An advisory committee already is in place as the state determines its next assessment,” Hunter said.

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