Los Alamos School Board Takes On Testing

LAHS teacher Brian Easton addresses the School Board on student testing. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos Daily Post

The Los Alamos School Board devoted the bulk of its June 9 meeting to a Student Assessment Report from LAPS Chief Academic Officer Pam Miller.

Miller’s presentation was upbeat and stressed how well the District had dealt with testing this year. “Even the dissent expressed by teachers, students and others over testing “leads the way to creative thinking,” Miller said.

Testing is intertwined with teacher evaluation, Miller said. Fifty percent of the evaluation score comes from test results. In addition to PARCC testing results, the District opted for using End of Course Exams as part of the evaluation. Teachers favored using ECE results because the alternatives were worse, said Los Alamos High School economics teacher Brian Easton. “It was a choice of ‘do you want to lose your right arm or your left,” he said.

The number of tests that measure the same thing annoyed Board President Jim Hall. “There’s a total imbalance between assessment and learning,” he said. He urged aggressive recommendations to the New Mexico Public Education Department on the right way to test and assess from a committee to be formed by LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus. “Look at the correlation between tests and the statistical validity,” Hall urged Steinhaus. “My mind is boggled [by the amount of testing],” Hall said.

Easton said testing at the high school did not go well, but “let’s fix the problems, not place blame.” He urged better organization of the tests to coordinate with times some students aren’t in class, such as during registration. He said effective training and accurate information on the tests and when they will be given would improve things.

Easton said he did not use EOC tests to grade students because they are “seriously flawed” and that interim tests are of no value. The interim tests are required by law, Miller pointed out.

In a motion from Hall, the administration was directed to form a group of administrators, teachers and experts in the community to develop plans for teacher evaluations and testing that provide clear guidance to staff, give useful input and maximize instructional time. It passed unanimously.

“We’re going to roll up our sleeves and go after this with every bit of brain power we have,” Steinhaus told the Board.


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