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Sweet Home students being assessed on state standards

Students in the Sweet Home Central School District are being assessed throughout the academic year to see where they rank in terms of state education department standards.

James Bialasik, coordinator of secondary education, and Ann Laudisio, coordinator of elementary education, presented a report on the district’s Interim Assessment Program during Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Sweet Home School Board. The assessments are administered roughly every quarter during the school year. For grades three through five, the tests don’t count toward their grades. For grades six through 12, they do.

Six steps make up the program, including designing the assessment to test students’ conceptual and procedural understanding, and aligning instruction with the rigor of the assessments.

While the assessments gauge where students are in regard to state standards, they also show educators where students need assistance, Bialasik said.

“The response is really the most important piece,” he said. “After we measure where our students are, we want to be able to do something to help them with the standards.”

The tests are given in addition to state assessments. Board member Marianne Jasen questioned whether students are being tested excessively.

“The number one thing we hear from parents is that we’re testing too much,” she said.

“I just want to make sure we’re not adding duplicate things on top of duplicate things.”

Bialasik said it’s a balance between gathering the data and providing a response for students on the assessed material, and over-testing. “I think it’s about thoughtfully integrating assessment into the curriculum we already do,” he said.

“Assessment is part of curriculum, and we obviously want to know where our students stand, but we don’t want the testing to become excessive.”

The district has always assessed how students are doing in regard to state standards, Bialasik said, but this is the first year they’ve formalized how they do it.

“This is the first year we’ve really looked at a response,” he said.

Other districts assess students throughout the year as well, Laudisio said.

“It’s a widely accepted practice,” Bialasik said.