Testing dates moved back for first time in 10 years

Will provide additional time for learning, but could result in lower performance scores

May 07, 2008 at 10:57 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Testing dates moved back for first time in 10 years
LEAP, iLEAP and GEE testing dates will be pushed back for students in every grade beginning next school year. This change means that testing will occur in April for the first time since the state’s accountability system began in 1999.

Rachel Allemand, executive director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for St. Charles Parish Schools, says the change could impact the district.

“The advantage of the revised schedule is that it provides additional time for teaching and learning prior to testing,” Allemand said. “Unfortunately, the new schedule also provides fewer days for makeup testing.”

Allemand says schools may have lower performance scores because they will receive a score of zero for each student who is absent during testing. The change comes after years of concern about the testing dates, which usually fall during the second or third week of March.

It also means that the tests will be administered over two weeks rather than one week as in years past. The number of makeup days will be reduced from three to two.

LEAP tests determine whether or not fourth and eighth graders get promoted to the next grade level. The GEE (graduation exit exams) are tests taken at the high school level and determine whether or not a student graduates.  iLEAP tests are taken by all third, fifth, seventh and ninth graders.

Under the new plan, which was approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the tests will be given April 1 through April 3 and April 6 through April 7, 2009. Makeup testing will take place on April 8 through April 9.

The new dates may allow for an additional three weeks of instructional time prior to testing, depending on district calendars. In addition, it will shorten the time between testing and the end of the year, which should reduce the “post test slump” that occurs often.

“I am very pleased with the work that went into developing this new schedule,” said State Education Superintendent Paul G. Pastorek. “I know that this is an important issue and the department is taking steps to address it in the best way possible. Our goal is to better serve our students, and I believe that we are headed in the right direction.”

Assistant Superintendent of Education Scott Norton, who is in charge of the testing program, said that his office will work carefully with school and district administrators to implement this new schedule.

“While there will be challenges, we will accomplish the goal of increased instructional time before testing begins,” he said. “This will help achieve our mission of higher academic achievement.”

Despite the challenges that may occur for the districts and the department, this new schedule will address many of the prior concerns about the test dates. However, many districts have already adopted school calendars for 2008-2009 and may need to revisit their plans for the upcoming school year.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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