Tests expand range

Published 12:27 pm Monday, August 4, 2014

Goal to assess more than academics

MANSFIELD (AP) — Ohio’s kindergartners will be assessed this year under a system that state officials say will help teachers measure what the students know and design lesson plans tailored to each child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Kindergarten students In the past were assessed more narrowly on language and literacy proficiency. The new assessments test those areas. But they also test physical well-being and motor development, math, science, social studies and social skills, the Mansfield News Journal reported.

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“We really want to focus on children’s academic, social, emotional and physical development,” said Stephanie Siddens, senior executive director for the Ohio Department of Education’s center for curriculum and assessment.

The tests used to measure where the children are to start the year also differ from the old assessments because they will not be done in a formal setting, but in the course of normal class time. Students likely won’t even realize they are being tested, Siddens said.

For example, a teacher might observe how a student interacts with other children during class to determine if any social development is required.

“It really is much more embedded in regular classroom activities,” Siddens said.

She said that also will help reduce the anxiety many children felt during the formal testing.

Education experts hope the assessments also will improve preschool care in Ohio

The previous assessments narrowly targeted on literacy proficiency and language elements didn’t help young children develop well-rounded skills, said Shauna Adams, executive director of the Center for Early Learning at the University of Dayton.

With so many more areas being tested, that will force preschools to adjust, according to Adams.

Michele Prater, spokeswoman for the Ohio Education Association, said teachers can use results to determine an entry point for students into the kindergarten curriculum.

The state is training all kindergarten teachers how to administer the assessments that must be completed by Nov. 1, although the language and literacy portion must be completed by Sept. 30 to comply with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee law.