Technology and TUSD Connect

Our Mission is to:

Transform teaching and learning with the integration of technology to support educators by engaging students in rigorous, collaborative, and meaningful experiences that will impact society.

TUSD Connect is… rigorous standards, engaging strategies and supported by technology

Superintendent’s Message: ‘TUSD Connect’ Supports Student Learning

TUSD Connect – the District’s instructional initiative – is well under way! The three components of TUSD Connect (rigorous standards, engaging instructional strategies, supported by technology) are in abundant evidence throughout the District. TUSD Connect represents a significant change to most teacher and school practices that will take time to fully implement at the expert level. Similarly, MEASURING this change in instruction and student learning is very difficult and we should all be prepared for the new scores that it generates.

The new statewide assessment system to measure progress on the Common Core State Standards has been named CAASPP, but many people refer to it as the SBAC (Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium) because SBAC is the organization that created the tests. It differs from the old STAR testing in a couple of significant ways.

The Common Core State Standards include much of the same content as the standards developed in 1997; however, there is a much stronger emphasis on critical thinking and students’ ability to apply their knowledge. The new SBAC assessments are attempting to measure these important differences. While the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests measured what students knew in relationship to the 1997 state standards, the CAASPP measures student thinking and learning of the new Common Core State Standards. Since the two testing systems measure progress toward a different set of standards, the results cannot be compared.

In addition, the CAASPP is comprised of very complex test items in an attempt to measure how students think and how they can apply what they know. As an example of how much more complex the new testing is compared to the old STAR testing, there are SIXTEEN different types of test questions on the CAASPP, while the STAR had only one – multiple choice. The single fact that multiple choice questions on the CAASPP may have multiple right answers and students have to identify them all in order to get the item correct is a huge difference and makes the test very difficult. This is even more reason that the two tests – STAR from previous years and CAASPP from this year – cannot be compared. This year’s CAASPP scores will set a new benchmark to which future scores can be compared.

So, what does all of this mean? The results of the CAASPP tests that students will take in the spring must be viewed as stand-alone measures of students’ progress toward a new goal. They cannot be compared to old STAR scores. We should also expect initial scores on the CAASPP to be lower than what we are used to seeing. We must remember that we are starting a new and different journey. We have left the STAR mountain that we were climbing, and have switched to the CASPP mountain. We cannot expect to begin our new climb half way up the new mountain.

We can be sure that the great work of teachers, teacher coaches, principals and support staff will result in our students being more prepared to face a complex and uncertain world when they leave TUSD. As the District continues to focus on teaching and learning, our students will show continuous growth – a TUSD hallmark.

Go TUSD!

Gregory A. Franklin, Ed.D.