As we move forward into the 2nd semester of the school year, our thoughts turn to spring events and standardized testing. There are enough activities that each school year seems to fly by and 2014-15 is no exception. Seniors are working on applications for tech schools and college, juniors are taking their ACT exams, and there is already talk about spring sports, prom and graduation.
We have been fortunate that the weather has improved and we are seeing fewer and fewer cases of the flu. This results in more continuity in daily instruction and student learning. Soon we will be assessing how far our students have progressed. In February, our 4th grade students will be taking the NAEP exam. We do not receive individual student test results on this exam, but the exam does give a collective picture of how our SD students compare with students from across the U.S.
In March, we will begin our standardized testing using the Smarter Balance online exams for mathematics and language arts. Last year the students did a test run on the online system and we did not receive any individual results. This year, we will receive results for individual students as well as class and school summaries. The first year of this testing will not give parents a great deal of information as these are completely new tests and the data and test results will be different from those of the Dakota STEP tests that students have taken in the past. As we go forward from this year’s testing, parents will have the ability to compare each year’s data and the educational growth of their students with the previous year’s results. Over time the school district will also develop a better picture of how well our instruction is meeting the needs of our students.
Parents will receive notice prior to testing so that they can ensure that their students get a good night’s rest so they are prepared to perform at their highest level. We encourage you to emphasize the importance of these tests as a measure of how well we are succeeding in preparing your children for the future. One of the positives for online testing is that the district should receive test results within 3 – 4 weeks after testing is completed. In the past, test results were typically not returned until August or September of the following school year.
As always, whether in preparation for upcoming tests or just to help your students get the most out of the instruction provided, we encourage you to make consistent attendance a priority. Students make the greatest progress when they are in school on a daily basis. Work assignments can be made up and sometimes this is necessary due to illness or family emergencies, but every absence results in things that are missed and can’t be replaced.
Thank you for your continued support and involvement in helping the school district serve you and your students.
Mr. Lynn Vlasman, Supt.