Snippets – AMP Time Across Alaska

It’s AMP Time Across Alaska!
Submitted by Tamara Van Wyhe and Shawna Goodwin

During the month of April, students across the Copper River School District (and across Alaska!) are participating in the annual statewide assessment. This year, however, students will take the first computer-based version of the test, based on Alaska’s new set of standards adopted by the State Board in 2012. Students in grades 3-10 will take two Alaska Measures of Progress, or AMP, assessments in English Languages Arts and Math.

In ELA, students will be tested on reading and writing skills. Math assessment items will focus on concepts & procedures, problem solving, communicating & reasoning, and modeling & data analysis. Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (EED) officials state that the “next generation” computer-based assessments will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of complex standards in ways that are not possible with traditional paper/pencil assessments. To prepare for this new way of “showing what they know,” students in the CRSD have had numerous opportunities to learn how to use the testing platform through the use of a technology practice test focusing specifically on helping students learn how to use the various tools within the testing platform, and formative “testlets” that provide feedback on students’ understanding of content-related questions.

Each content assessment in the AMP has four sections. The first section of both the ELA and Math assessment has 25 questions, and the other three sections have 15 questions each. Guidance from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that each content assessment will take students approximately 2 ½ hours to complete.

While the SBA of years past took place on the same three days in April, regardless of a student’s school of attendance or grade level, the AMP provides sites with greater flexibility in scheduling the assessments. The dates for the testing at each school are as follows. For more specific information about the exact dates and times of each assessment, please contact your student’s teacher.

AMP Dates School Grade Levels Testing
March 30-April 3
Glennallen Elementary
Glennallen Jr/Sr High SCIENCE SBA

Kenny Lake School

Grades 3-5
Grades 8 & 10
Grades 3-6
April 6-10
Glennallen Middle School
Kenny Lake School
Kenny Lake School SCIENCE SBA
Upstream Learning (Testing location: Kenny Lake)
Grades 6-8
Grades 7-10
Grades 4, 8, & 10
Grades 3-10
April 13-17
Glennallen High School
Upstream Learning (Testing location: Glennallen)
Grades 9-10
Grades 3-10

April 20-24

Slana School
Slana School SCIENCE SBA
Make-Up testing for GLN, KL, Upstream
Grades 3-10
Grades 4, 8, & 10
April 27-May 1
Make-up testing for all sites, as needed

According to EED, this spring’s testing window will also include the very last paper/pencil administration of the Science Standards Based Assessment for students in grades 4, 8, and 10. Thanks to an opportunity for early testing, Glennallen School’s 4th grade students completed their Science SBA the week prior to the opening of the AMP window. Upstream Learning Science SBAs are being coordinated with individual families of students in the tested grades. The science content assessment will continue next year, but it will transition to a computer-based system so that students in grades 4, 8, and 10 will take the science test right along with their English language arts and math AMPs.

While we feel confident that our students have been prepared to transition to a computer-based assessment platform, we also realize that this first year of testing based on the new standards could provide student achievement scores that are lower than we had grown accustomed to with the SBA. Alaska’s new set of standards is much more demanding, content rich, and rigorous that the previous Grade Level Expectations. After a thorough review of student results, standards-setting work in July, and State Board review and approval in late summer, we will receive student score results in October 2015. Future AMP assessments will provide student results within weeks as opposed to months. Again, because this is the first year of AMP testing, it is a “baseline” year. Additionally, guidance from EED emphasizes that it is not possible to make comparisons between the SBAs and the AMP, scores from this testing administration will not affect schools’ “star ratings” from EED.

Social media has taken an unexpected role in providing parents with information about the AMP in recent weeks. While some social media buzz has pointed out that students may not have to take the assessments, districts across Alaska are mandated by EED to assess enrolled students in grades 3-10. Students who do not participate in the assessments, regardless of the reason, count against a school and district’s performance ratings. An AMP Data FAQ sheet is available on the EED AMP Resources Page at

If you are visiting your local school during the month of April, please be aware of posted “Do Not Disturb! WE ARE TESTING!” signs on classroom doors where students are taking the AMP. Check with your child’s teacher regarding specific testing dates and times. As always, encourage your student to do his very best on the assessment as it provides a snapshot of what he or she has learned in the course of the school year. And, finally, help them to turn in early on evenings before testing and get plenty of rest!

Questions about the AMP may be directed to EED, your child’s teacher, principal, AMP coordinator Shawna Goodwin, or District Testing Coordinator Tammy Van Wyhe.