Most states slow to distribute test data to teachers

Most states slow to distribute test data to teachers

(District of Columbia) One of the key elements of the Every Student Succeeds Act is its emphasis on new technology that can speed up the assessment process so that classroom leaders can adjust instruction based on how students are doing.

But new research from the Center on Education Policy shows only 17 states attempt to get any test results back to teachers before the end of the school year, and out of that pool, just 9 provide the data in the spring of the same year the tests were taken.

Less than half of the states say they are providing training to help teachers and principals analyze and use test data, but 28 states say they are not only sharing test data with parents, but also soliciting feedback on how well families understand the scores.

The new findings are drawn from a survey the center conducted in the fall of 2017 primarily to find out how states were implementing the mandates Congress established with the passage of ESSA.

Although the center research team did not offer recommendations to either Congressional leaders or to state or local officials, they noted that the survey results show that “states are providing teachers, principals, and parents with student test data, consistent with ESSA requirements, but often the data come too late to inform instructional strategies for the group of tested students.”

ESSA requires that states conduct testing in math and English language arts in grades three through eight and once in high school. The test results are also required to be part of a student performance evaluation that includes other indicators such as attendance or participation in advanced curriculum.

The law specifies that the test results be provided to the schools and parents “as soon as is practicable after the assessment is given, in an understandable and uniform format.”

The center found that nearly all states are providing the results to teachers –42 states—and to principals—43 states. Two states reported that they are not providing results to either teachers or principal and one reported the results are going to principals only.

How quickly that information is being circulated was also measured in the survey.

“In the majority of responding states, teachers typically receive state test scores in the summer of the year in which the test was administered—seven states provide preliminary results in the summer, and 22 provide final results at that time,” the center said. “Fewer states typically provide results in the fall or later.”

Many teachers interviewed by the center for the survey said that even when they get the data, it is often confusing and typically hard to work with. Some teachers said they used or wanted to use the assessment reports given to parents because they were easier to understand.

The issue of whether the data being provided includes scores of specific students has risen in several states—most specifically in California, where lawmakers threated to withdraw from the testing coalition because the contractor wasn’t providing student information.

The center found that about half of the states participating in the survey—19—said they provide teachers with test results for individual students, as well as student results summarized at the state, district, school, grade and classroom levels. Nineteen states also reported providing this full array of results to principals.

“Of the remaining survey respondents whose states provide assessment results to teachers and principals, 13 said their state gives individual student results, while others provide educators different combinations of results (state, district, school, grade, or classroom),” the center reported.

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