California has the largest student body of English Learners (ELs) in the United States. Eighty-five percent of the over 1.5 million English Learners in the state come from homes where Spanish is spoken; Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Cantonese are the next most frequently spoken languages, each accounting for one to two percent of the total (California Department of Education, DataQuest, 2013).
There is strong advocacy for these students, who are among the lowest performers in the state. Multiple community groups have formed to advocate for the meaningful instruction of English Learners. Such advocacy led to the development of the California Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS) for use with English Learners instructed in Spanish. Advocacy has also led to the use of the STS assessment in dual-language programs with students who are not English Learners but who are receiving instruction in Spanish. With the Common Core State Standards now translated into Spanish, it is likely that there will be aggressive advocacy for an assessment of Spanish language arts.
Also noteworthy is that in 2012 California was the first state in the nation to adopt a “Seal of Biliteracy” program that acknowledges high school graduates who have demonstrated fluency in English as well as at least one other world language. Approximately thirty-four California districts grant the Seal of Biliteracy, and 10,685 students obtained the biliteracy seal on their diploma in 2012.
For these reasons, the following recommendations are made for the state’s consideration.
6.1 Research and Policy Considerations for Content Assessments in a Language other than English
California will want to consider the research recommending that the language of the assessment should match the language of instruction. ELs are a highly heterogeneous population, especially in regard to variables such as language history, language use, and proficiency levels across their first and second languages (Linquanti & Cook, 2013; Mancilla-Martinez & Kieffer, 2009). It is likely that not all students identified as EL will have the language skill necessary to perform well on assessments using their home language (Guzman-Orth, Nylund-Gibson, Gerber, & Swanson, 2013). For students identified as Spanish-speaking ELs receiving content instruction in English who take a content assessment in Spanish, several background variables should be collected to validate this approach (e.g., language history, content instruction in their home country, see Bailey & Kelly, 2010). Otherwise, assessment results may affect the validity of the students’ content knowledge (Guzman-Orth et al., 2013).
It is critical that content assessments designed for English learners are aligned with the content standards. To assess content area skills of all English Learners receiving content instruction in a language other than English, assessments should be standards-based (Herman, Webb, & Zuniga, 2007); this is true whether the standards are from the CCSS or the Common Core en Español. This approach should include newcomers at any grade and students with interrupted formal education (SIFE). Smarter Balanced has proposed to deliver a translated/transadapted mathematics content assessment in Spanish. California may consider the development of an assessment for language arts so that a student can demonstrate progress in becoming biliterate. In doing so, the state may wish to consider a language policy that will foster biliteracy and that will include assessments to measure biliteracy attainment.
In its deliberations, it will be important for California to consider that translating or transadapting assessments from English into another language may not be the best approach to making content assessments accessible for English Learners. Certain phrases or contexts may be difficult to translate across languages and cultures (Hambleton & Kang Lee, 2013). For example, if California decides to produce a language arts assessment in a language other than English, it is appropriate to consider a separate test development process rather than a direct translation or transadaptation of English language arts content. At present, limited mixed-evidence exists for validating translating and transadapting as linguistic accommodations for ELs (Kieffer, Lesaux, Rivera, & Francis, 2009). It will be important to collect ongoing validity evidence during assessment development and use this to validate the inferences made from the test-takers’ performance.
Another issue for consideration is the small population of California test-takers who are administered content assessments in a language other than English, particularly at the upper grades. Small sample sizes often pose challenges to psychometric analyses and may negatively influence the stability of test results. Administration of the test in both PPT and TBA administration modes would further reduce the sample sizes, making psychometric analyses even more challenging should the data within each testing mode need to be analyzed separately (e.g., if lack of mode comparability is observed). Therefore, it is important to keep sample size in mind when exploring design options and other features of an assessment program.
6.3 Professional Development for Teachers of English Learners
It will be important for California to ensure that all teachers of English learners are included in the professional development pilot for formative tools and practices. These tools and practices will be as important to their work with their students as the components will be to the general education teachers in improving performance of students in ELA and mathematics. The state should use care to reinforce the importance of involving these teachers in these professional learning activities, which unfortunately can be overlooked during planning. See Recommendation 8 for more information about professional development regarding interim assessments and formative practices.
Recommendation 7 – Assess the Full Curriculum Using Assessments that Model High-Quality Teaching and Learning Activities
Over the next several years, consult with stakeholders and subject matter experts to develop a plan for assessing grade levels and curricular areas beyond those required by the ESEA (i.e., ELA, mathematics, and science) in a manner that models high-quality teaching and learning activities.
In many ways, modeling high-quality teaching and learning activities in subjects other than those required by Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will require similar decisions and timelines to those subjects that are the focus of that legislation. The difference in these non-ESEA content areas, however, is that California will have more flexibility implementing these assessments to meet the specific needs of state stakeholders.
Table 7: Immediate Implementation Tasks for Recommendation 7
Review additional content assessment options
CDE, SBE, and national subject matter experts
Review likely desired content areas to be assessed and identify potential synergies with national and international assessment
Consultation advice with stakeholders and subject matter experts
Identify parameters of additional assessment
CDE, SBE, and other state stakeholders
Through stakeholder discussion, establish goals of testing time and budget for additional assessments
Goals of full curriculum assessment
Draft calendar of full curriculum assessment
Using parameters and goals, draft a calendar of assessment
Review the draft calendar with school and district staff with further discussion with policymakers to obtain consensus on full curriculum assessment plan
Intermediate Considerations for Recommendation 7:
Many of the considerations presented here can be more thoroughly discussed in the long-term possibilities described in the appendix. Because California is not bound by the requirements of ESEA in evaluating performance on these additional content areas, the state has the opportunity to implement different test design options and different sampling procedures, with more opportunity for teachers to use the assessment components with greater flexibility in their own classrooms.
While California will have greater flexibility in determining the content areas and the manner in which these contents are assessed, it will be important to place boundaries around these conversations in terms of testing time and budget constraints. It is not uncommon in situations where a state wishes to expand its testing program that advocates from multiple content areas request to be included — especially if the results are not expected to include the high stakes accountability of past years — to counteract any narrowing of curricular focus that may have occurred in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era.
7.1 End-of-Course Exams
Though this Recommendation deals with any assessments put forth in grades and content areas other than those required by ESEA, California may have a vested interest in developing mathematics assessments that serve as summative measures within particular mathematics courses at the secondary level. California has already invested significantly in promoting mathematics course-taking that aligns to higher rates of college or career success (e.g., Algebra I for all students). It may be possible to use portions of the item pool from Smarter Balanced to supplement state-led item development in building an end-of-course (EOC) assessment for this purpose. The state may also wish to consider end-of-course exams in ELA that leverage the assets of the Smarter Balanced consortium in a similar way.
Smarter Balanced is also considering using the item bank to develop — or allow states to develop — end-of-course exams with its item pool, so it may be possible that these types of assessments in the Smarter Balanced content areas can be assessed for the anticipated, additional purchasing fees.
7.2 Exams in Non-ESEA Content Areas
The consortia-designed assessments have brought renewed attention to item types that previously were not included in large-scale assessment or were included, but only in a limited quantity. Measurement tools such as performance tasks or technology-enhanced items bring with them a focus on improvements in both the design and administration of these items. The consortia bring with them numerous templates and increased experience at the state level in developing these item types. Content areas that previously may have been beyond the realm of efficient large-scale administration can now benefit from the expertise developed on these items. Areas such as the visual arts have the opportunity to develop a focused number of high-quality performance tasks. When combined with sampling opportunities such as those discussed later in this document, a smaller number of these item types can still be affordable while providing information at an aggregate level. In turn, released items from these evaluations can provide opportunities to model effective teaching and learning activities in subsequent years.
It may be reasonable to explore what opportunity might exist in oversampling within the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administrations so that California might leverage this sampling administration while minimizing assessment administration time in these content areas. The state would need to be willing to accept data based on the NAEP frameworks; however, in these subjects this may be a reasonable concession to make in return for the efficiencies realized in administrative time and financial commitment. A related option might be for the state to request that its NAEP administration be augmented with a California block of items once NAEP moves to computer.
7.3 Calendaring of Non-ESEA Content Exams
If these content areas are intended to serve as programmatic and curricular evaluations (i.e., not for student-level performance information that demonstrates individual growth), then California has the opportunity to explore another NAEP-like characteristic: biannual or less frequent administrations in any given subject. The benefit of such a calendaring schedule is that the area assessed does not necessarily need to be at the same grade level each year. As the Recommendations suggest, a content area can be assessed one year in grade 4 and a subsequent year in grade 5. One advantage of this administration approach is that it acts as a bulwark against having an assessment system that unintentionally narrows the curriculum. Aside from the concerns over the non-tested content areas that presently exist, some states have seen this narrowing occur in the administration of the science test under current ESEA requirements, where the science content becomes a hypercritical focus in the grades where it is assessed. In a varied schedule of administration, the assessment focus becomes more diffused across the grades.
7.4 Sampling of Students and Items in Non-ESEA Content Exams
A matrix sample is an assessment where both students and test questions are sampled. Student sampling procedures, where a random subset of students participates in a test, can reduce costs substantially. Item sampling, where individual students take a portion of a large assessment, can reduce the amount of time needed to test each student, while providing aggregate information of a high quality. This approach also allows more content and skills to be assessed because all students do not have to be assessed on all standards in a subject area or in all subjects.
A consideration with this approach, especially in light of a post-NCLB era, is that parents and teachers are accustomed to receiving student-level reports giving information on the knowledge and skills of individual students. Since an individual student takes only a portion of the entire exam, individual student scores are not comparable or appropriate. In addition, individual student growth scores are not possible with this approach. However, when the results of the “distributed exam” are scored across an entire school or district, they can provide similar information that school-level results would provide when students receive individual scores.
This sampling approach can be a cost-effective and time-efficient method to evaluate curricular performance at a macro level, such as school, district, and state. Sampling methods are discussed in more detail in the appendix of this paper.
Recommendation 8 – Invest in Interim, Diagnostic, and Formative Tools
Create a state-approved list of grade two diagnostic assessments for ELA and mathematics for use at the local level. Acquire the SBAC interim item bank and formative tools.
One of the many benefits of the state participation in Smarter Balanced will be district access to interim and formative components of the consortium. For ELA and mathematics, the state will have to establish a system of supports in this area. These interim tests and formative tools and practices, however, are currently expected to be available for a fee, and the SSPI recommendation is to purchase these tools. To support these additional assessment purposes, it will be of critical importance for California to prioritize its investment in these components above other competing assessment system priorities such as summative assessments in additional grades and subjects. In addition, the state will need to consider how content areas other than ELA and mathematics will be supported in an interim and formative system and how those additional content areas combine with ELA and mathematics in administration and reporting to maintain a coherent assessment system.
Table 8: Immediate Implementation Tasks for Recommendation 8
Establish State Leadership Team
CDE staff and district representatives
Identify a group of California stakeholders who are able to meet virtually to discuss implementation of Smarter Balanced interim and formative assessments tools as well as related activities; include teachers who will also be part of the State Networks of Educators who will evaluate the formative resources and instructional practices in summer/fall 2013 to support a seamless transfer to information around the system.
State Leadership Team
Describe specific goals and objectives of the interim and formative system
CDE staff and State Leadership Team
The State Leadership Team will describe the purpose and objectives of the range of assessment tools with the California assessment system (defining formative, diagnostic, interim, etc., in clear, teacher-friendly language).
Create a teacher-friendly document that clearly communicates the purpose and objectives of different types of assessments and make it readily available to all districts.
Encourage districts to adopt common language around assessment.
Pamphlet describing the CA assessment system for teachers
Pamphlet describing the CA assessment system for district staff. (These two pamphlets should become part of the communication plan described under Recommendation 1.)
Gap analysis of Smarter Balanced resources
CDE staff and State Leadership Team
By the fall of 2014, Smarter Balanced should have sufficiently described or released examples of the interim and formative tools and resources that will be available from the Consortium. Using that information, the State Leadership Team can identify what additional resources would be helpful to prepare teachers to implement the CCSS and prepare for the Smarter Balanced assessments. Identify what supports/guidelines districts are looking for in order to support teachers who use these resources.
Prioritization of goals not provided by Smarter Balanced
CDE staff and State Leadership Team
From the gap analysis, identify the highest priority tools and resources needed for 2014-2015. Identify potential funding sources for these tools and resources.
Plan professional support pilot
CDE staff and State Leadership Team
Plan a pilot with a number of interested school districts to identify resources districts need to support teacher engagement with the Smarter Balanced tools and teacher understanding of the impact on curriculum and instruction.
Pilot districts and teachers identified
CDE staff and State Leadership Team
During pilot, report back periodically to the State Leadership Team and Smarter Balanced professional development cadres to identify what the state can do to support district engagement with the Smarter Balanced resources in meaningful ways to improve teaching and learning.
Shared district resources
CDE staff and State Leadership Team
Building on what was learned from the pilot, either create shared resources for districts or ensure that resources can be easily shared among resources to support teacher professional development. The CCSS require not only a change in assessment processes but also instructional modes and ongoing classroom assessment. Teachers will require support to make those changes.
Distribution of shared resources
Refinement of resources
CDE staff and State Leadership Team
Continue to refine the resources during the 2014-15 implementation year and beyond.
Continuous improvement cycle for resources
Intermediate Considerations for Recommendation 8:
California should take full advantage of the Smarter Balanced interim item bank and formative tools and practices, allowing complete access for all public schools. It is not the intent of this recommendation to mandate any Local Educational Agency (LEA) or school to use such tools or for any data to be collected at the state level. The intent is to take full advantage of the tools offered through the Consortium so that all LEAs in California will have equitable and equal access and local discretion on use. It is also important to recognize that for schools and teachers to be able to use these resources effectively, the state and its districts will need to give careful attention to professional development at a scale and within a timeframe that has not been previously attempted with regard to this type of assessment literacy. Traditionally, the role of "professional development” designer or provider has fallen to personnel within school districts, but given the scope and timeframe, there may be an important role for the state to play as coordinator, facilitator of information sharing, hub for resources, or a hybrid of these roles.
The State Network of Educators will include representatives from primary, elementary, secondary, and higher education, with members having expertise in mathematics, English-language arts, English Language Learners, Students with Disabilities, and/or site administration. This group will evaluate resources, using established criteria, for their suitability for inclusion in the digital library.
The 150 California educators of the Smarter Balanced State Network of Educators, identified in the summer of 2013, will have an important role to play. However, given the size of the state and even with one teacher per district, only one-tenth of the districts will be represented. An important role for the state will be to amplify the voice of this group of teachers and to support them beyond just providing access to the Smarter Balanced resources. The state can also examine the current curriculum to identify what has to change, provide necessary professional development, and demonstrate what the changed curriculum would look like.
As the state moves beyond this immediate focus on the first year of implementing the Smarter Balanced assessments (the school year of 2014-15), the focus will need to shift to understanding what supports are needed to deepen and sustain this work. For example, what are the implications for teacher preparation, ongoing professional learning, and teacher evaluation?
California’s participation in Smarter Balanced may answer many of the state’s needs for a statewide interim and formative assessment system for ELA and mathematics in terms of the tools themselves. Additional support may be required (1) if the state intends to address the breadth of curriculum with interim assessments and (2) in terms of the teacher professional development required to effectively use the tools and to incorporate effective formative assessment practices into ongoing teaching and learning at all grade levels. Although the system is still being defined, it is expected to include both interim assessments, a formative component to influence instruction, and professional development resources. Each state is expected to contribute to an online library of classroom materials that will aid instruction. Helping teachers use these resources will perhaps require models of professional development that could be shared across districts. In addition, the system is being built to include a series of interim assessments to gauge student mastery of the standards in an ongoing way.
8.1 Models of Interim Assessment
With the use of the Smarter Balanced interim assessments and formative tools, there remain a number of different models for how California could complete an interim assessment system to provide instructionally actionable information. One model is to provide formal elements like interim assessments, which are given periodically throughout the year to get a snapshot of how students are mastering the standards. These pre-constructed forms could be linked to the state assessment and be used to identify gaps in student learning that would inform teaching and remediation plans during the next instructional period. The second approach is one in which the items are made available in an item bank from which districts can develop their own interim assessments based on their curriculum. Each methodology has pros and cons, and the manner in which Smarter Balanced will provide interim assessment materials is not yet clear.
8.2 Models of Formative Assessment
One widely shared definition of formative assessment comes from the Formative Assessment for Students and Teachers (FAST) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS). In order to support the development of a common, research-based understanding of formative assessment, the group published a definition of formative assessment:
"Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students' achievement of intended instructional outcomes."
Smarter Balanced has enhanced this definition for its purposes, but the definition is similar in essence. In its Request for Proposals #23, the Consortium provides the following definition:
“Formative Assessment is a deliberate process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides actionable feedback that is used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning strategies to improve students’ attainment of curricular learning targets/goals.”
Given the commitment of Smarter Balanced to produce “classroom-based, formative assessment strategies and practices,” the Consortium has adopted the perspective that formative assessment is an ongoing classroom process that engages both teachers and students. Providing or helping teachers select appropriate tools is one aspect of this work, while a second is supporting teachers as they adopt the kinds of classroom practices that make appropriate formative use of those tools. While Smarter Balanced will also provide professional development and assessment resources and tools, teachers may need additional support to understand how to select from among the resources and integrate those resources meaningfully into their instructional units. It will be important to communicate to teachers how the components of a balanced assessment system work together in tandem with other assessments that they will use, such as unit assessmentsthat may contribute to student grades.
8.3 Implementation Considerations of Interim Assessment Components
There are several challenges with integrating interim assessment into the California system. One challenge is that districts already have a number of different assessment computer systems in use, and some may not have any system available for this purpose. As Smarter Balanced moves toward implementation of the interim and summative assessments, careful attention will need to be paid to how districts need to modify their computer systems in order to support access for all mathematics and ELA teachers to the technology-based interim assessments and performance tasks.
Of course, the opportunities that exist in implementing these interim components are many. Two are worth briefly noting here. First, students who move from one district to another will have a consistent set of results that goes beyond the summative assessments. Teachers can review the performance of students who enroll in their classroom at any time of the year with more proximal performance results: this information will support better instructional decisions as soon as the student is placed in that teacher’s classroom. Second, school districts will no longer need to expend district funds on such a system — or wish that they had district funds available to do so. This would provide students and teachers across the state with equitable access to more detailed information about the student performance no matter the region of the state in which they reside.
8.4 Implementation Considerations of Formative Assessment Components
As noted previously, ensuring communication between the California teacher cadres and other teachers and districts across California will be key. Helping districts identify ways in which they are already supporting formative assessment, finding creative ways to provide additional professional support for teachers where there are gaps, aligning with the Smarter Balanced approach, and adopting common assessment language will all help reduce confusion.
Recommendation 9 – Consider Alternatives to the Current California High School Exit Examination
Consider alternatives to the CAHSEE for measuring students’ demonstration of grade level competencies and where possible, reduce redundancy in testing and use existing measures.
Making alterations to a high school exit requirement likely requires as much stakeholder conversation as psychometric activities. Any time such a change is made in a state, there are scores of conversations and much consensus-building to ensure that the expectations of the student accountability system are appropriate and that these expectations have been thoroughly vetted to mitigate unintended consequences. Immediate tasks appropriately begin the stakeholder conversation, but intermediate work builds on considerations around the options presented by SSPI Torlakson.
Table 9: Immediate Implementation Tasks for Recommendation 9
Confirm legislative intent for graduation exam
SBE and State Legislature
Determine the current political leadership commitment to an exam as part of CA graduation requirements (see 2012 HumRRO CAHSEE evaluation recommendation 1a&b)
A bill or general guidance removing or altering the CAHSEE requirement
Establish transition window
CDE staff and SBE
Define a transition window that would protect students from high-stakes consequences driven by standards not yet delivered by instruction (see 2012 HumRRO CAHSEE evaluation recommendation 1c&e )
Board-adopted transition window
Decide on alternative to CAHSEE
CDE, SBE, and other state stakeholders
Conduct discussion with the stakeholders regarding options presented above; decide on alternative to CAHSEE
Written decision on alternative to CAHSEE
Develop plan to implement alternative to CAHSEE
Prepare specifications and timeline to implement alternative to CAHSEE
Specifications and timeline for implementing alternative to CAHSEE
Possible transition window
CDE staff and SBE
Window preserving “old standard” requirement for Opportunity to Learn (OTL) defensibility
Provision of graduation requirement based on legacy standards for current HS students
For each alternative listed within the Superintendent’s Recommendations, we offer intermediate considerations that can be explored in the next 18 months. The enactment of any particular recommendation may need to be completed after the implementation of the Smarter Balanced assessments, depending upon the specifics of that activity.
The subject of a high school graduation requirement also relates to policy and legal considerations best discussed more fully elsewhere. The HumRRO 2012 CAHSEE evaluation presents a discussion of some critical points, among them: What policy decisions need to be made to determine what a minimum high school graduation requirement might look like after transition to the CCSS?
What evidence of instruction implementation and delivery of CCSS-based instruction/materials should be in place prior to holding students accountable for mastering the CCSS?
What is an appropriate overlap period of standards in order to hold students accountable only to standards for which they have received adequate instruction?
A critical question in any certification exam that bestows a level of proficiency is whether or not the examinees have been afforded a reasonable amount of time to learn the subject matter of the exam. In other words, have the students of California had an adequate opportunity to learn the standards of the Common Core? Much of the transition discussion around a high school graduation exam will include consideration of the appropriateness of that opportunity. California’s discussion will certainly include this aspect as well.
9.1 Smarter Balanced as the Next CAHSEE
Instead of administering a stand-alone High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), use the SBAC ELA and mathematics high school assessments to determine academic readiness for high school graduation.
To this end, there is the possibility of using Smarter Balanced summative and/or interim assessments. Since the Smarter Balanced summative and interim assessments are expected to be on the same scale, either assessment or a combination of both assessments could be used to assess minimal competency by establishing an additional “California Minimal Competence/Graduation” cut score. Two primary considerations exist with this option:
An issue in using one, the other, or both assessments is that the summative assessments will only be administered during a 12-week window at the end of each school year. While students will be allowed to retest within the 12-week window, it does not provide the same retesting opportunity as CAHSEE’s current seven administrations per year. An advantage to using the interim assessments is that they are administered throughout the year, on demand, which goes beyond the 12-week summative testing window and CAHSEE’s seven administrations per year. Additionally, the Smarter Balanced interim assessments provide both comprehensive and content-cluster assessments that allow students to retake only the portions of the test that they did not pass previously. The Consortium plans to make available an optional secure item bank for a fee; however, it is unclear how many administrations such an item bank could support, especially in the early years of development.
Another issue to consider is which grade of the Smarter Balanced assessments to use for each subject. CAHSEE currently uses ELA items from grade 10 and some from grade 9, mathematics items are taken from grade 7 and some from grade 6 and Algebra I. A decision would need to be made between using Smarter Balanced grade 11 (too high?) or grade 8 (too low?) for ELA and Smarter Balanced grade 6 or 7 for mathematics. California would also have to determine policies for when students could first attempt the test for graduation purposes as well as those related to retesting. Most likely, stakeholders will look for retest opportunities that are similar to the number offered by the state on the current system.
9.2 Optional Voluntary Exams
As a proxy for meeting high school exit requirements, use the results of other voluntary exams (e.g., PSAT, SAT, ACT, or AP). These would need to be used in conjunction with a state-administered assessment, such as the SBAChigh school assessments, as all students would not choose to take the voluntary exams.
While proxies could be considered, the tests listed are either admissions measures (meant to differentiate among students trying to gain admissions in selective colleges), or tests designed to support an award of advanced placement and credit in a specific curricular area. They are not designed as measures of minimum competency. Perhaps more saliently, and as stated above, they will not be taken by all students. So use of these tests would make it somewhat more difficult for the state to track trends in the performance of high school students. Finally, these tests are not yet all aligned to the Common Core.
It is important to note, however, that the challenges above do not mean that these assessments are off the table; rather, they can be part of a suite of pathway options students can use to demonstrate they are college or career ready. Depending upon the student’s goals, a student could take an assessment that is best aligned to his or her personal postsecondary goals, while still remaining true to the policy goal of all students exiting high school as college and career ready. While there are complexities, having students take multiple tests to show competency is worth avoiding when possible.
9.3 Successful Course Completion
Consider the successful completion of specific courses to determine if students meet minimum high school requirements for graduation. Successful completion would need to be defined.
An option is to eliminate the requirement to pass any stand-alone assessment and simply have the minimum graduation requirement based on “successful completion” of predetermined core courses. As stated, “successful completion” would need to be clearly defined, as well as the core courses to be included. There is also the possibility to use successful completion of courses in conjunction with other measures. Other states have incorporated the standardized test scores as a portion of the course grades and also require a minimum score on the EOC exam for graduation (e.g., South Carolina, Arizona, and Texas). Others, such as Maryland, have developed a composite score required over several exams.
9.4 Future EOC Exams
Consider the use of any relevant end-of-course assessments that may be developed in the future to determine high school exit requirements.
While this is certainly a possibility, developing future exams seems to contradict the cost savings and reduced burden of assessment listed as advantages of Smarter Balanced. However, if EOC tests beyond the scope of Smarter Balanced continue to be available, there is the option to use the results to determine minimum competency for graduation. One possible approach would be to define “capstone courses” in the major subject areas and require graduates to pass EOC tests in these courses. It is worth noting that passing a series of EOC tests is a system used in a number of states. However, it tends to increase the cost of the EOC tests themselves, since the system must allow for much more retesting than is currently the case in EOCs given only for system-level trend and accountability measurement purposes.
9.5 Matriculation Exams
Consider the use of matriculation examinations, if developed, to satisfy high school exit requirements (see Recommendation 10).
Please see comments below regarding Recommendation 10.
Recommendation 10 – Explore the Possible Use of Matriculation Examinations
Conduct further research and discussion regarding matriculation examinations, including exam format (i.e., written, oral), cost, fee coverage (e.g., student, LEA), and ways in which such exams could be used to meet high school exit requirements.
The desire to establish matriculation exams would perhaps best occur in the conversation regarding the decisions around the state’s high school exit exams (Recommendation 9). A decision on one of these recommendations, of course, affects the other. It will be important that these stakeholder discussions occur as a single activity as the state develops a coherent policy around promoting college- and career-ready graduates.