Strategy Set 3: Getting There ... And Using the Results
from Thomas Herdtner
Director, Florida Connections Academy
Like all other public schools, virtual public schools are required to participate in their stateâ€™s high stakes standardized testing — but the logistics can be a bit more challenging! At Florida Connections Academy, we have developed a number of strategies to help make sure our students participate fully — and benefit fully as well.
- Getting the virtual students to the test. The location of test sites for your virtual students will vary from state to state. Begin preparing well in advance to assure that you know the locations and what is expected of your virtual school families. Better to work out all the potential problems early on than to have your virtual school students encounter an upsetting first day of testing. Provide each virtual school family with the data needed for coding the test booklets for each of the students. Be sure the families know the contact information for the test site and have contacted the test site coordinator to arrange for scheduling. The parents of your virtual school students might want to ask the local test site if they can visit the site prior to the actual test day to help alleviate potential anxiety. Mid-week, prior to the actual test dates, have the virtual school teachers call each family to assure that the parents have made arrangements for testing at the test site and to remind them that of the upcoming test dates. You might even want to offer some type of incentives to encourage the virtual school families to attend all sections of the high stakes test.
- Use the test results to make decisions to assist your students. Once the test results are received, plan relevant ways to use the results with your virtual school families. Help the families use the data to identify their studentâ€™s areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Make use of the test data a meaningful and dynamic process that helps everyone to value accountability without seeing it as a threat. If your virtual school families and teachers are shown a positive, non-threatening, practical use for the test data, the entire high stakes testing experience can become a valuable aid to continuous improvement and progress within your virtual school. Whether we agree or disagree with high stakes testing, it is a reality and we can take the responsibility for making the process as positive and useful as possible.