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As elected Board of Education members, we are faced with the challenge of leading an organization that is extremely complex. Federal and State reform efforts have attempted to implement heightened curricula standards and more stringent accountability mechanisms. These mechanisms are measured using assessment practices which need to be guided by these principles. However, there those who believe the entire assessment process is misguided.

In dealing with this era of accountability, the overemphasis of single score or measure of achievement may not produce the results school boards are looking for. Perhaps they can examine the eight principles in this EdSource resource paper, Reforming Testing and Accountability. This Executive Summary is from the paper: "Buried Treasure - Developing a Management Guide From Mountains of School Data" from the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

The challenge for school districts is to ensure teachers have the power to implement effective teaching and learning practices while at the same time providing parents and the public with a reasonable measure of the effectiveness of teacher practices. This study examines the access of effective teachers for under served populations who traditionally under performed on standardized testing.

In Alameda, the assessment process is part of a larger process to improve instructional practices by making decisions based on assessment data. The intersection of assessment data, instructional practices and curriculum adoption for a particular school site is captured in a Single School Plan (SSP). While the SSP is a required State mandate, Alameda has adapted the SSP process to improve student achievement.

In 2008, the Legislative Analyst Office issued a report Improving Access to Student Data to improve instruction.

In addition to accountability, school board also need to comply with Federal laws regarding providing a Free and Appropriate Education. In 2012, the LAO issued this report in 2012 on Special Education.

In 2013, as part of the 2013/14 the Legislature suspended use of standardized testing in preparation for implementation of Common Core. In 2013/14 school year students will be taking field tests (short sample tests of 15 questions) for the new Common Core standards. The impact on standard measures like API is not clear.

Federal Compliance

In 2001 Federal law called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed.Within that legislation, there were provisions which required each school district to create an ongoing five year plan detailing how each school intends to raise student achievement. The five year plan is called Local Education Agency Plan (LEAP) and consists of five goal areas and twelve performance indicators.

The federal accountability measure - CA Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This accountability measure requires all districts and schools to demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress with the goal that 100% of the students are proficient or above in reading/language arts and mathematics by 2013-2014 based on their own State's standards.In 2013, California transitioned to Common Core Standards. As a result, it is not clear how California will comply with Federal measures until testing under Common Core is validated.

While not applicable at a District level because of the methodology used, each state's academic performance can be compared using the National Assessment of Education Progress.

State Compliance

The Academic Performance Index (API) was the main component of the California Accountability System for public education from 2002 to 2013. The State assessment method has its critics. It is unclear on the API will change with the transition to new Common Core standards.

In addition, the California High School Exit Exam plays a critical role for high school students. If you are interested in more information on standards and assessment practices at the State level. Go to the CDE Links for STAR, CAHSEE, CELDT, PFT NAEP, GED and CHSPE practices.

These were the California's Standards for a particular subject at  a particular grade level until 2013.

In 2013, California began implementing Common Core Standards. As a result, most of the accountability measures have been suspended until testing under Common Core has been validated.

Local Assessment Practices

The biggest challenge facing public education is closing the achievement gap. This study suggests that school reform alone can not close the achievement gap. Here is AUSD and the Racial Achievement Gap data. Alameda Unified School District serves a diverse population of Non-English Speaking Students. There are numerous Assessment Instruments By Grade Level used by AUSD. In addition there are voluntary tests taken by high school students. Here are the results of the Advanced Placements Test Results taken Alameda High Students for 2004. Here is a San Francisco Chronicle news article about Advanced Placement test taking results for the state of California.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Giftedness of your child.

2002-Prior Year API Base Data for AUSD

Beyond educating our children, school districts are becoming responsible for promoting health through wellness policies and maintaining fitness levels.  

 

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Last modified: January, 2014

Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.