Board Of Education To Accept RISE Test Scores, Pending Legislature Approval

Oct 3, 2019, 9:04 PM | Updated: Oct 4, 2019, 9:52 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The decision over RISE standardized test results now heads to the state legislature after members of the Utah State Board of Education decided to publish the test scores without assigning official letter grades for students’ performances.

Last spring, third through eighth grade students experienced several technical difficulties while taking standardized tests statewide.

On Thursday, members of the Utah State Board of Education announced their findings of an internal and external evaluation that concluded the test scores were technically valid. They also announced a decision to publish the results without assigning official letter grades for student performance, pending the approval of state legislatures.

Per state statute, the Utah State Board of Education will need the state legislature’s approval to forego assigning a grade while still publishing the results.

“Given that delivery system irregularities could have impacted an individual school’s results, USBE will engage with legislators to identify flexibilities from state accountability requirements, including the assignment of letter grades and identifying schools for improvement,” a press release said. “USBE also will include a disclaimer on the school accountability report card (or dashboard) indicating that interruptions occurred during testing.”

It’s the possibility of a compromise between the board and school districts concerned the results could have a negative impact on school evaluations.

After months of discussion over statewide RISE test results, members of the Utah State Board of Education announced what they considered a compromise during a board meeting.

“It is a good compromise where it addresses both the technical side and the difficulty side, the personal side of the question,” said Brittany Cummins, vice-chair of the State Board of Education. “Part of that is to ask the legislature to look at possibly not assigning grades, a grade to the report card this year and to alleviate some of the concerns that many in the field have had in regard to the disruptions that have occurred.”

Last spring students and teachers statewide reported difficulties, ranging from technical issues with logging in to problems with submitting answers during RISE testing for third through eighth graders.

“We did see testing interruptions, we have concerns about the validity of the results that are being associated with student performance,” said Ogden School District Superintendent Rich Nye.

Nye said his school district has 11,512 students and many of them were affected by the testing glitches. Nye was in support of the board’s decision.

“I think what the state board has done here, alleviates some of the burden,” he said.

The board ended its contract with the test provider Questar Assessment Inc. in June.

“USBE Made this determination based on Questar’s inability to meet several deliverables identified in the contract, including delivery dates for benchmarks, interims, and summative assessments and failures in the reporting system,” according to a statement provided by the Board.

Board members came to their decision following an internal and external evaluation of the test scores.

“The Center for Assessment study of results from Utah’s 2019 RISE assessments found that a comparison of means of the disrupted students and non-disrupted students provided insufficient evidence of a substantial impact on scores,” board members said in a statement. “A school-level analysis did not identify evidence of schools being measurably impacted by the disruptions. Further, USBE’s initial analysis indicates that approximately 95% of our student population fully participated in the assessment—nearly 3 percent more than in previous years. Additionally, it was found that this year’s assessment scores at the state and LEA (Local Education Agencies) level were distributed as would be expected.”

“The results look very valid and reliable and that we could use those,” said Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning for the Utah State Board of Education Darin Nielsen. “That was the impetus for our board moving forward with publishing.”

“This was not smooth sailing for the state, for (Local Education Agencies), for anyone and so we’re not trying to say that the process was okay but we are relieved to see in the end that the data was usable,” Cummins said.

There was no official word yet on when the legislature will take up the matter.

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Board Of Education To Accept RISE Test Scores, Pending Legislature Approval