by: Leslie Postal|Orlando Sentinel
August 19, 2015
The study to determine whether Florida’s new standardized test is a valid one is due in Tallahassee on Sept. 1. The study of the Florida Standards Assessments is being run by two outside testing companies that have filed detailed reports on what they’ve done — but provided few clues on what, if anything, they’ve determined so far.
The study, required by the Florida Legislature, has held up the release of scores from the new FSA, a series of standardized tests in language arts and math. The scores were due out in early June
The study was mandated after the FSA’s roll out was marred by technology problems, and some educators questioned whether it had been properly vetted and field tested. The FSA replaced most of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test or FCAT.
The two firms are looking at how the FSA questions were selected and at how well the test matched with the Florida Standards, the state’s version of Common Core, among other questions. The FSA is meant to test whether students met those Common Core academic benchmarks.
The monthly report filed July 31 detailed meetings the testing company officials have held with staff from the Florida Department of Education and with school district administrators, who’ve been asked for their feedback on the 2015 administration of the FSA.
It noted the companies have collected more than 650 documents related to the FSA and looked at more than 200 test items, studying whether they met “best practices in assessment design,” used appropriate language for the grade level, targeted “intended depth of knowledge” and were free of bias.
The firms also have looked at how FSA questions, leased from Utah’s state test, were field tested.
But company officials have given no hint about whether they think the FSA is a well-put together and valid exam – or if they’ve spotted problems.
“Those monthly reports haven’t really said anything about what they’ve been finding but what they’be been doing,” said Brandon McKelvey, the Orange County school district’s senior director of accountability, at a recent school board meeting.
McKelvey said the final report should provide some answers but also likely will be more technical then many educators and parents (and reporters) would like.
After all, it’s an “independent verification of the psychometric validity” of the FSA.
“The first page will not have in giant red letters valid or not valid,” he said.
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