Last Spring, Alaskan students participated in the first administration of the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) Assessment. According to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), these new tests assess “students’ understanding of the state’s standards for English and math.” DEED also explains how AMP is different from the Standards Based Assessments (SBA) that students have taken since 2005. “On the AMP tests, students answer fewer multiple-choice questions than in the SBA. In some questions, students must analyze the question, perform multi-step tasks, solve problems, and apply what they know to new situations. In short, AMP does more to measure higher-order thinking.”
The new assessments have not come without controversy. Concerns have been expressed by parents, educators and school boards. DEED has responded by publishing several AMP related documents at http://education.alaska.gov. Based on DEED’s timelines, some school districts planned to distribute individual student AMP results at the 2015 Fall Parent/Teacher Conferences. Unfortunately, the CRSD and other districts were notified last week that AMP results will not be publicly released until mid-November or later, according to DEED’s estimates.
In preparation for you to receive AMP results for your student(s), the following information is provided by DEED in a pamphlet titled “A Parent’s Guide to AMP’s First Results”:
- “Last spring, students in grades 3 to 10 took the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) for the first time. AMP is the state’s challenging assessment of rigorous standards for English and math. Standards are expectations for what students should know and be able to do.
- This October [now November], families will receive their first reports on how their students performed on AMP. Your school can help you understand the report. Regardless of your students’ scores, the only consequence is they will receive support to improve their learning.
- Students’ scores on AMP placed them in one of four achievement categories: Level 1, 2, 3, or 4, from low to high, as defined by Alaska educators. Levels 3 and 4 represent meeting the standards. Levels 1 and 2 represent partially meeting the standards, not failure.
- Many students who scored proficient on Alaska’s former tests did not meet the standards in AMP. That’s because the new standards are higher and the tests are more difficult. It’s like a baseball player hitting .300 in the minor leagues one year and .240 in the major leagues the following year. The player hasn’t declined in skill, but he’s in a more rigorous league. Under AMP, students aren’t suddenly less skilled and teachers aren’t less capable than before. But they are being asked to meet higher expectations. Over time, as students and teachers work with the new standards, AMP scores should rise. This has happened in other states that have adopted higher standards and assessments.
- What makes the AMP tests difficult? On the AMP tests, students answer fewer multiple-choice questions. In some questions, students must analyze the question, perform multi-step tasks, solve problems, and apply what they know to new situations. In short, AMP does more to measure higher-order thinking. AMP’s reading questions require students to read and understand literary or informational texts, identify central ideas, decide what words mean, and use evidence from the text to support their conclusions. Questions about writing require students to edit and revise texts by putting sentences into logical order, correcting errors in the choice of words, and correcting grammar, punctuation, and spelling. AMP’s math tests require students to explain and apply math concepts and carry out math procedures with precision; solve a range of complex problems; and analyze complex real-world situations and use math models to solve problems.
- Why did Alaska raise its standards? We realized that many students who were proficient in our former standards were not prepared academically for jobs, career training, the military, and education after high school. Alaska does not compare well with other states on national tests in reading and math. Our graduates will compete for jobs against people from around the United States and, in some cases, the world. For our students’ sake, we have to take a hard look at whether we are meeting this challenge.”
More information from the “A Parent’s Guide to AMP’s First Results” brochure and other AMP related information can be found at: https://education.alaska.gov/akparentscommunity/#c3gtabs-statetest.
Once DEED releases AMP results to districts, CRSD teachers and administrators will begin the process of reviewing the data and learning how to interpret the new reports. When you receive your student’(s’) AMP reports, please call your child’s teacher or principal if you have questions or concerns.
Please keep in mind, students evidence learning in many different ways in a variety of subject areas and activities. Statewide assessments such as AMP are only one means for measuring student achievement. Teachers in the CRSD employ a number of assessment tools designed to guide instruction, ensure academic progress, and celebrate each student’s strengths.