AMP tests under scrutiny

Some legislators are seeking an end to the Alaska Measures of Progress and Alaska Alternate Assessment tests. Rep. Jim Colver, R-Palmer, sponsored House Bill 232, which would prohibit the Department of Early Education and Development from administering the assessments, which nearly 73,000 students in the state’s 54 public school districts took for the first time in spring 2015.

“According to DEED, we have a contract to implement AMP this year,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. “Our district does not want to waste state funds by not honoring this contract, but we also have many concerns with past performance of the AMP vendor.”

The state of Alaska paid $25 million for a five-year contract with the Achievement and Assessment Institute, which is based out of the University of Kansas and formed in 2012, to develop the assessments based on standards adopted by the state the same year.

Dusek said school district administration was in support of delaying the test following the official, second release of the first round of results in November. The initial set of results was released in October to public school district administrators only, and returned to the vendor after being deemed inadequate by superintendents and the department of early education.

Though Dusek did not elaborate, he said the school district is working with the Department of Early Education to improve the current assessment system, so that it “provides results that can be utilized to improve student learning.”

“Until the reporting and the instructional usefulness concerns are adequately addressed, the implementation should be delayed,” Dusek previously wrote in an email to the Peninsula Clarion. “It makes no sense to take a test if results aren’t useful for instructional decisions.”

Families received their students’ results in December, but the school district test coordinator did not receive any calls regarding questions or concerns about the results, said Pegge Erkeneff, school district spokesperson.

Colver’s bill would require the department of early education to administer the Alaska Measures of Academic Progress student assessments offered by the Northwest Evaluation Association, “or a substantially similar system of assessments.”

derally mandated Every Student Succeeds and No Child Left Behind acts require statewide assessments, Dusek said. He said he is hopeful the Department of Early Education will look for the ways to administer those tests that best address the needs of Alaska’s students.

The school district is currently planning to administer the AMP test this spring, Erkeneff said.

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