"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Urge Nebraska Politicians to Save STARS

It could be the assessment model for many other states, and it stands for School-based, Teacher-led, Assessment and Reporting System. Now it is threatened by herd mentality and ignorance of the facts. Contact the Nebraska Legislature.

From McCook Daily Gazette:
Friday, March 21, 2008
Connie Jo Discoe

District 44 State Sen. Mark Christensen said Thursday morning that LB 1157 -- legislation requiring state tests of Nebraska students' learning and progress -- may not come back onto the floor in the 14 days remaining in the second session tentatively scheduled to convene April 17.
LB 1157 may not come back to the floor, not without some adjustments and changes, Christensen told those gathered for his weekly telephone conference at the McCook Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sen. Ron Raikes of Lincoln, chairman of the Legislature's Education Committee, is working hard on the passage of LB 1157, said Christensen, who called it a bill "that's been controversial enough."

Christensen said he does not believe that Nebraska -- the only state in the nation without a state-wide system of testing students' progress -- is at risk of losing federal education funding by not having a state test system. He said, however, that Texas has been fined for not being in full compliance with federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation.

Christensen said he has visited with school officials in his district who are opposed to state testing, who are pleased with the existing STARS (School-based, Teacher-led, Assessment and Reporting System) system in use across Nebraska.

Christensen said he is concerned that a state test system will compare districts without considering their innate differences -- number and training levels of teachers, student-teacher ratio, the percentages of single- vs. two-parent families, English-language learners, working parents, migrant families, free and/or reduced lunch qualifiers. "These things affect test scores beyond just how smart kids are," Christensen. "My fear is, with a state-wide test, that School A (will be graded as) bad because they don't test well. Some schools don't test well, but are still doing an excellent job," of teaching students. He said schools and student progress should be determined on issues besides test scores.

Christensen asked, who better to educate and test students than their local teachers and administrators.

On Monday, March 17, senators adopted an amendment to LB 1157 (see an accompanying story with McCook's curriculum director Gayle Sharkey), and Senator Cap Dierks filed a motion, which is pending, to indefinitely postpone LB 1157.

© Copyright 2008, McCook Daily Gazette
Story URL: http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1319726.html

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