State extends deadlines to complete reading, math and writing exams

Last updated: February 11. 2014 11:10PM - 1277 Views
By - mguydish@civitasmedia.com

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It’s not your imagination, there have been a lot of snow days this school year, so many that even the state tests have been delayed.

Well, technically not delayed. Schools can still start giving the tests on the same dates as originally scheduled. But the state has granted an extra week to finish administering reading, math and writing tests. And area superintendents said they are grateful for the extension and will use it, effectively making it a delay for students taking the tests.

“Crestwood School District will be taking advantage of the extension,” Superintendent Dave McLaughlin Smith said in an email. “Any additional instructional time, based on the number of delays we have had, will be helpful.”

“We’ve lost six days of instructional time plus any number of two-hour delays,” Pittston Area Superintendent Michael Garzella said. “I’m grateful they decided to do this. We’ll definitely use the extra days.”

Dallas Superintendent Frank Galicki said Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq had announced the extensions after emailing superintendents. “With all the cancellations and weather problems, she asked whether we thought it would be a good idea, and most people said yes,” Galicki said.

The state sets “windows” each year for various standardized tests. The window for this year’s math and reading tests — given in grades three through eight — was March 17 to March 28, but was extended to April 4. The window for writing tests — given in grades five, eight and 11 — was March 31 to April 4, and was extended to April 11.

The windows for science tests in grades four and eight, and the new high school Keystone Exams, begin April 28 and May 9 respectively and were not changed.

Until last year, the state used only the math and reading tests in gauging a school’s academic achievement. In the 2012-13 school year, the state switched to the new “School Performance Profile” ratings that look at all the state tests, and more.

The fact that so many of the tests are now “high stakes” could make this extension of testing windows a harbinger of things to come, Galicki suggested, noting some reports claim state testing can consume up to 30 days of a school year, leaving less time for actual instruction.

“I think the Department of Education is just going to have to come right out and say the time has come, with all the testing we have, to increase the length of the school year,” Galicki said. “I understand the accountability, we all want to be accountable. We just need more time to do our jobs.”

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