Though educators and parents statewide have been concerned about the large amount of time students spend being tested, the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Assessment is recommending even more testing.

The idea is to eliminate not-as-valuable testing time and put it toward formative testing — ongoing testing in the classroom that gives teachers immediate feedback and tells educators where the students are academically, said Judy Park, Utah State Office of Education associate superintendent of data, assessment and accountability.

Yes, the testing time will be increased. But it's more "productive time," Park said.

This idea may not sit well with some teachers.

"Every time we do hours and hours and hours of testing, it definitely impacts classroom instruction time," said Jane Lindsay, principal of Pleasant Green Elementary School in Granite School District.

The panel is gathering opinions on their testing proposal during the next two weeks.

The first of six public hearings Thursday evening brought about 100 people to the auditorium in Granite District offices.

The panel will come up with a formal proposal and pitch it to the governor in early September. The 35-person committee includes USOE officials, legislators, parents, teachers and administrators.

The panel's plan calls for eliminating three tests: the Criterion-Referenced Test (CRT), which is an end-of-level exam used for supplying data for the federally mandated No Child Left Behind; the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test (UBSCT), which students are to pass before graduation or face receiving a diploma which indicates they did not pass the exam; and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which shows educators how Utah students are doing as compared nationally.

The Panel is recommending a variety of other tests instead:

• Computer adaptive testing for K-12 on reading, language arts, math and science, three times a year;

• Directed Writing Assessment Using Computer-Driven Assessment for grades 4 to 12 three times each year;

• Annual testing of basic and academic English for students who are English Language Learners;

• Ongoing reading assessments in grades K-12 using locally selected but state-approved interim assessment types;

• Kindergarten assessment using locally developed assessment;

• EXPLORE in eighth grade for all students to measure preparedness for high school and to prescribe high school coursework;

• PLAN in 10th grade for all students to measure high school performance and to prescribe further coursework for preparedness for post-secondary education training;

• Accuplacer, a college placement test in the 11th grade prior to registration for the senior year for all students, to determine their academic needs prior to graduation and to pre-qualify students for admissions to concurrent enrollment course work and to pre-qualify for credit-bearing courses in Utah's colleges and universities;

• ACT in 11th grade for all students, to measure high school performance, to prescribe further coursework for preparedness for post-secondary education and training and to begin the post-secondary admissions process.

Jay Blain, a math teacher and president of the Granite Education Association, believes that's way too many tests. He says the teachers are already concerned with the current high amount of testing and "to increase that even more is problematic."

Implementing the new tests wouldn't come cheap. The presenters declined to put a dollar figure on the proposal, saying the panel still needs to hash out details.

Presenter and panel member Brenda Hales, USOE associate superintendent for student achievement and school success, said, "This is a technology-heavy proposal. It requires major amounts of funding to make this work."

Rachael Steffield, a part-time teacher and parent of five children, is worried those costs could be passed on to the parent. The ACT costs $35 per take. Sheffield said she likes the idea of requiring the ACT but making parents pay would be a "deal breaker."

To submit comments on the Panel's proposal, e-mail USOE staffer at vicky.smith@schools.utah.gov


E-mail: astewart@desnews.com