Classical Parent Raises Concerns That Families Found Out at “11th … – GoLocalProv

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Friday, January 06, 2023
GoLocalProv News Team

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Parents in Providence say they just found out this week that upcoming midterm assessments for Math and English, which count toward students' grades, were standardized by the Providence Public School Department (PPSD) — as the testing begins in less than two weeks. 
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For some parents at Classical High School — where study guides are usually sent out prior to the holiday break at the end of December — they are upset that they found out at “the 11th hour.” 
“If the goal is to create an equitable system, this policy is incredibly misguided,” said Michelle Meek, a parent of a Classical 10th grader, in a letter to PPSD she shared in a parents forum on social media. “Sameness does not equal fairness. And high stakes tests with material not taught in class favors students who either have prior/outside knowledge or are able to memorize new material quickly and easily. There is nothing equitable about that.”
“As I understand it, tests will be computerized with fewer questions than normal and no opportunity for partial credit—again doing our students an immense disservice,” she continued. “In addition, my understanding is that midterms/finals will not be district-wide for AP classes—again, indicating an inequitable policy.”
“If the district or state wants/needs to assess students' level statewide, then the more reasonable method would be to perform tests that do not count toward students' grades,” she added. 
On Friday, Meek spoke with GoLocal about her concerns. 
“While standardizing currently might be a worthwhile goal, it hasn’t been done. You don’t standardize the test and then standardize the curriculum,” said Meek. “And you can’t just implement a plan, you need buy-in.”
Meek said there has been no communication from PPSD to parents regarding the change. 
“I literally will get 12 texts a week from PPSD and we know nothing about this,” said Meek. “We got nine [texts] alone about the yearbook.”
Meek said students were given the following “study guide” (see photo) this week regarding what material would be tested. 
It marks the latest charge by members of the Providence schools community that PPSD is not being transparent enough.
In December, the Providence Teachers Union blasted PPSD and the Rhode Island Department of Education for announcing impending school closures just before winter break. 
PPSD on Changes
This week, PPSD responded to the midterms changes with the following. 
“This year PPSD is using a new digital assessment management system that makes data-driven instruction faster and more efficient. This system will help teachers, students, and leaders receive their scores immediately, thereby informing instruction and supporting academic growth,” said PPSD spokesperson Nick Domings. 
“Implementing this new system has been a collaborative effort, as outlined in the letter to staff below,” said Domings. “For example, school-based teachers and coaches were part of the process to revise documents and assessments for both math and English courses.”
“It’s also important to note that each school’s Instructional Leadership Team continues to have the authority to determine the weighting of this assessment within the District gradebook,” he added. 
The following was what sent by “The Teaching and Learning and Data & Assessment teams” to principals, according to Domings. 

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The “study guide” provided to students this week.

Hello High School Principals,
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The “study guide” provided to students this week.
As you know, this year we are utilizing Mastery Connect, our new digital assessment management system that makes data-driven instruction faster and more efficient. This system is a critical part of our uniform curriculum implementation because teachers, students, and leaders are able to receive their scores immediately, informing instruction and supporting academic growth on the assessed standards.
With that said, we want to recap the information that has been shared up until this point. As you review, please note that presentations and emails are linked for your reference.
June/July/August 2022
·        Meetings were held to build the SY22-23 Assessment Calendar including Data & Assessment, Teaching & Learning, Student Supports, Assistant Superintendents, and PTU
·        All Central Office departments created the 22-23 PD Matrix to strategically schedule literacy and math coach meetings before and after interims/midterms. Coach meetings were held prior to focus on training required for testing administration and meetings after to focus on facilitating data analysis and action planning protocols for instructional practice with teachers
·        District Math Supervisor collaborated and worked with school-based teachers and coaches to revise Scope & Sequence documents for math courses
·        District Literacy Supervisor and Literacy Coordinator collaborated and worked with school-based Teachers and coaches to revise Scope & Sequence documents based on end of unit assessments for English classes
August SLA
·        August 2nd- Assessment calendar and Gradebooks were shared and reviewed with school-based administrators by Data & Assessment, which included ELA StudySync Assessments and Math Midterms
·        August 9th- Each content supervisor reviewed updated scope & sequence documents with school-based administrators
September 2022
·        Teaching and Learning and Data and Assessment created implementation plans in conjunction with Student Supports around supports for MLLs and students with IEPs/504s
·        September 15th- Principals Meeting presentation by the Data and Assessment team provided an in-depth, hands on walkthrough of Mastery Connect and the administration of exams for SY 22-23 to experience the platform and testing environment
October-November 2022
·        Teaching and Learning and Data and Assessment began implementation of interims and Mastery Connect in grades 2nd-8th. ELA Interim 1, Math Interim 1 
·        October 4th, 11th, and 18th- Literacy Supervisor and Literacy Coordinator continued to collaborate with Teachers and Coaches to revise Scope & Sequence documents based on end of unit assessments for English classes
·        October 24th and 26th- K-12 coaches were trained by Teaching and Learning and Data and Assessment on the use of Mastery Connect and assessments 
·        Teaching and Learning met with Assistant Superintendent and Executive Director of High Schools to plan test administration logistics
December 2022
·        District Math Supervisor and Math Specialist created math midterms 
o   District scope and sequence was used to determine which standards had been taught up until the date of the midterm to include on the assessment.
o   Items types are similar to their Illustrative Math unit assessments
·        District Literacy Coordinator shifted existing Studysync exams into Mastery Connect and edited the writing prompts in Grades 11 and 12 to ensure students had opportunities to show their literary analysis skills. These midterms are the same as the StudySync end-of-unit tests with the exception of the 11th and 12th grade writing prompts.
·        December 12th- Principals Meeting session reviewed the assessments 
Elevate, MC, Canvas overview Rollout Plan
·        December 13th- High School Math Coaches reviewed standards taught to date and collaborated on which standards to prioritize for constructed response items and how many items per individual standard.
·        December 16th- High School Literacy & Math Coach Meeting to train coaches on:
o   Purpose and contents of midterms
o   Basics of MasteryConnect
o   Implementation Timeline leading up to January 17th administration dates
o   Each school-based ILT team votes to determine weighting of midterm in gradebook
o   Train-the-Trainer for facilitating training for teachers
§  MC HS Teacher Training
·        December 19th- ED sent email to high school administrators with all information from 12/16 coach meeting
·        December 21st- Makeup session provided to any school-based coaches or administrators who missed the 12/16 coach meeting
January 2022
·        January 4th
o   Email sent to high school administrators and coaches student-facing deck that teachers can use to provide students practice with the platform and testing environment.
o   Practice benchmarks sent to all teachers’ trackers in Mastery Connect
o   Executive Director of Teacher Development spoke with Principals and PTU regarding concern with providing modifications to assessments for students with IEPs/504s. Connected with Student Supports and Data & Assessment to develop solutions
·        January 6th
o   Schools will receive a google folder that houses PDFs of all ELA and Math assessments for special education teachers to modify per students IEPs/504s
·        January 4th-13th
o   Coaches facilitate training with teachers using a teacher-facing deck. 
o   Teachers teach 30-40 minute mini-lesson on Midterms and Mastery Connect using student-facing decks 
o   Students complete a practice interim to experience the item types and digital tools
o   Special Education teachers modify assessments per students IEPs/504s
o   January 12- high school ELA TLs and Coaches collaborate with Literacy Coordinator to develop essay scoring guides for teachers to use when scoring essays
·        January 17th-20th
o   January 17th- scoring guides will be sent to schools
o   January 17th-18th: students take assessments
·        January 17th-25th
o   Teachers score essays or constructed response items in Mastery Connect
o   Grade inputted into Skyward by January 25th
·        January 27th
o   High School Coaches attend Coach Meeting to receive PD on how to navigate reports, view reports, data analysis & and action planning
·        Subsequent Department Meetings at Schools- School-based coaches facilitate data analysis and lesson planning with classroom teachers
These midterm assessments are a valuable tool for measuring student progress on content and acquisition of grade level standards. By engaging in reflective practice around the data, teachers will be able to adjust core instruction, plan intervention and enrichment, and ultimately increase student achievement. This is especially important as we track student recovery in the wake of the pandemic. 
With that said, we want to reiterate that each school’s Instructional Leadership Team continues to have the authority to determine the weighting of this assessment within the District gradebook. Should you need support with the technical aspect of this adjustment, please reach out to our Skyward Team.
You will receive digital copies of the assessments by the end of this week. Thank you for your continued collaboration, and please continue to provide your feedback as we work together to prepare our students for success.
-The Teaching and Learning and Data & Assessment teams
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