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School of Education

As part of his Opportunity Across America Tour, Acting US Secretary of Education John King visited the Community Education Building in Wilmington on January 22 to discuss improving assessments with district and state educational leaders. Associate director of the School of Education, Elizabeth Farley-Ripple attended the meeting to discuss the work of the assessment inventory task force.

In response to growing parent and teacher concerns about the amount of testing, Governor Jack Markell’s administration initiated a process for inventorying all student assessments at the district and state level. To date, the Delaware Department of Education and each district and charter school have completed this internal assessment inventory process, informed by the work of non-profit organization Achieve.

In November, Farley-Ripple began facilitating committee meetings for Senate Joint Resolution #2 in order to help members develop a shared understanding about assessment, its purposes, and its uses. She also worked to help the committee members understand the state and district assessment inventories.

“Initially, the committee meetings focused on building assessment literacy among the stakeholder members. Many members have significant experience with assessment, but others had less, so it was important to get on the same page about key assessment issues,” said Farley-Ripple. “The second meeting focused on these key issues, which included the time spent on testing, the student and teacher experience, how assessments are actually used to improve instruction, and the importance of communicating effectively about these assessments.”

The committee has now turned to examining the results of the inventories. During its most recent meeting, the committee reviewed state and federally required summative assessments, such as Delaware’s Smarter Balanced Assessment, as well as the Student Growth Measures.

“We learned about recent changes in policy that have decreased time spent on these particular assessments and heard from educators about the varied uses for Student Growth Measures in their classrooms,” said Farley-Ripple.

The committee will begin discussing district inventories, posted publicly for comment on January 31, in their next meeting.

Farley-Ripple shared the committee’s progress with Acting US Secretary of Education John King, Governor Markell, and other educational leaders at January’s roundtable discussion.

“The goal of the committee work is to consider the state and district inventories together as a comprehensive assessment system,” said Farley-Ripple. “We plan to develop recommendations for the state and districts that reduce redundancy and support the use of high quality, instructionally-valuable assessments in the future.”

Learn more about King’s visit to Wilmington and Farley-Ripple’s participation in the roundtable discussion on assessments.

Article by Jessica Henderson