Public school students will no longer take the examinations they used to have at the end of every school year. The CNMI State Board of Education approved Tuesday to do away with both the Standards Based Assessment and the Stanford Achievement Test 10th Edition (SAT-10)
At the recommendation of Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan, the board approved the implementation of a new assessment test called ACT Aspire starting school year 2014-2015. This test is designed to assess students’ readiness in English, science, language arts, math, and reading and writing.
SAT-10 is a standardized test administered to all students in grades 3 through 12. The SBA test, meantime, is a battery test that weighs students’ level of knowledge as aligned with the system’s benchmarks and standards.
According to Sablan, Pearson suspended and took out SAT-10 and developed the ACT Aspire test to replace it.
The board adopted the policy that endorsed SAT-10 as the CNMI-PSS statewide assessment in the 1990s. On Tuesday, Sablan asked to have that policy amended to reflect the implementation of ACT Aspire as the new statewide assessment to be used by the PSS.
In a lengthy discussion during the meeting, Sablan and Jackie Quitugua, associate commissioner for instruction and curriculum, took turns explaining the need to adopt the new set of assessment exams.
They described the ACT Aspire as more comprehensive and aligned with the PSS common core standards.
Sablan disclosed that PSS initially considered three alternatives to replace SAT-10 but ACT Aspire was chosen after determining that the two others only cover assessments in three areas: English, language arts, and math.
Despite this shift to ACT Aspire, the SBA test will still be used to test students’ knowledge in CNMI history and Chamorro Carolinian Heritage Language Studies, or CCHLS.
“The SBA that we are currently using…will still exist for NMI History and CCHLS since Act Aspire will not be able to account for learning in these two areas,” according to Quitugua.
Sablan and Quitugua disclosed that ACT Aspire is designed to be taken with a computer but it also offers paper-and-pencil administration. The duration the test is about three to four hours; the SAT-10 and SBA tests take eight to nine hours.
Since not every public school student has a computer or laptop, the test will also be administered in its initial year with paper and pencil.
In terms of cost, it was learned that the new test, if taken on the Internet, would costs $27 per subject.
PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh assured the board that PSS has enough funds to pay for the new test to be administered to all public school students.