District will reduce total district-level mandated testing days by 50 percent, resulting in 15 percent more uninterrupted instructional time in classrooms
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) today announced that after a thorough review of its student testing and evaluation processes it will be reducing total District-level mandated testing days by 50 percent, which will result in approximately 15 percent more uninterrupted instructional time in classrooms districtwide.
The increase in instructional time will allow for more real-time assessments at the class-room level, and will bolster teachers’ ability to more immediately implement targeted student interventions and impact student outcomes. The District-required testing reduction will have no impact on DPS’ compliance with testing/assessments mandated by the Michigan Department of Education.
Two District-mandated assessments (Star Reading and Star Math), along with several pre- and post-tests related to core subject areas will be eliminated. The change is a result of direct input from those on the instructional front lines – the District’s teachers, principals and administrators, as well as our students and their families.
“This is another tangible example of how DPS is becoming a more efficient and effective school system focused on improving student achievement,” said DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley. “Since I came on board in January, we have been working to transform DPS into a school system that is not only financially sustainable, but more importantly academically competitive. Increased instructional time is critical to ensuring we achieve this goal.”
In July, the District began implementing a comprehensive restructuring of its Central Office that is designed to push all available resources toward its 97 school buildings. The restructuring includes a reduction in the number of Central Office departments from 60 to 16 within five divisions, and a new school-based Network structure that will provide a central point-of-contact and a dedicated group of staff who will support schools instructionally and operationally to ease the administrative burden placed on principals and ensure that they can focus on improving overall academic achievement for students in their buildings. There are six networks for the 2015-16 school year.
“As the District moves toward completion of its restructuring and, ultimately its transformation, we will continue to review all practices and policies to ensure that they are in-line with our focus on financial stability and increased student achievement,” said Earley.
The district will continue to use the Measuring Academic Progress (MAP) test for reading, language usage, mathematics and science in order to assess academic growth in its student population. The resources previously used to fund the implementation of the eliminated tests will allow the District to provide more training to teachers and administrators to better use the remaining assessments and interpret their results.
“The elimination of the Mathematics content area test (and the STAR Math test in some buildings) has been beneficial in that it has allowed teachers to jumpstart the school year with more valuable instructional time,” said Michelle Thornhill, lead mathematics teacher at Charles Wright Academy of Arts and Science and a member of the stakeholder group who reviewed the District’s testing calendar. “When students are bombarded with multiple tests at the onset of the school year, the results often end up not being useful because the children are suffering from test fatigue and tend to answer carelessly. With fall testing being limited to one or two tests, then the data analysis from them can be used with fidelity to drive instruction.”