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Standardized testing talks won’t be made public

By Staff | Jan 8, 2016

CHARLESTON (AP) – A new West Virginia commission’s discussions of the future of K-12 standardized testing requirements won’t be public.

State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano has formed a commission to study and suggest changes to end-of-year standardized testing, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

The commission’s meetings won’t be open to the public, state education officials said.

The commission is composed of a group of about 25 unidentified parents, teachers, superintendents and lawmakers. Department of Education spokeswoman Kristin Anderson said the members’ names will be released when the group makes its final recommendations to the school state board – likely this spring.

“It’s really a working session, and there’s nothing to report out at this point,” Anderson said.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which, like the No Child Left Behind Act, requires states to give annual standardized tests to practically all students in reading and math for third through eighth grade in addition to one grade in high school. West Virginia now goes beyond the requirement by testing grades nine, 10 and 11 in high school.

In a change from the No Child Left Behind Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act will allow using the ACT or SAT in place of West Virginia’s standardized test in high school, which is a Common Core standards-aligned exam called Smarter Balanced.

Kanawha County School Board member Ryan White, who is on the commission studying testing, said the committee seemed to be in consensus at its first meeting this month that the state should discard Smarter Balanced in general and nix standardized tests in ninth and 10th grades.

“The consensus is Smarter Balanced doesn’t really measure what kids are supposed to be learning,” White told fellow school board members in a meeting last week.

The state still plans to give the Smarter Balanced tests this spring and publicly release the new A-F grades of schools and counties by November 2016. The A-F system will replace the past Accountability Index that gave schools labels like “success” and “priority.”