Waiver of Fall ACP Testing Proposed, Pending Board Approval

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At Thursday’s Dallas ISD board briefing, trustees will consider a proposal to waive the use of the fall Assessment of Course Performance (ACP) as a weighted portion of the semester average for middle and high school students. Board members are expected to vote on the proposal at their monthly meeting on Dec. 17.

Shannon Trejo, chief academic officer, said the removal of the ACP as a mid-year assessment, if approved by the board, would reduce stress on the system and give teachers more time to focus on learning loss caused by disruptions due to the coronavirus. Also, she said, the ACP is a secure test and keeping it secure would require on-campus testing for all, something that is not currently feasible.

Under the proposed change, the following would occur:

  • Middle and high school grades for the first and second nine weeks would be averaged to calculate the final grade for the Fall 2020 semester. (Normally, the ACP is weighted as 15% of the high school grade and 10% of the middle school grade.)
  • GPA and class rankings would still be based on the semester grade.
  • Focus groups for the Excellence Initiatives (TEI, PEI) are being conducted to get feedback from stakeholders on how to adjust the initiatives. More information is expected in January.

The ACP has typically been used as an end of semester exam to measure student progress and determine instructional priorities. Rather than administer the ACP for the fall, the district would prioritize the middle-of-year (MOY) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) scheduled for February. With the beginning-of-year (BOY) data point, MAP will help staff determine the amount of growth per student between the beginning and middle-of-year administrations.

In addition, all the students have already participated in two common assessments, Trejo said, which provide an assessment of mastery for the curriculum taught in a particular time frame – common assessment 1 given after the first six weeks and common assessment 2, which is in progress now. That window has been extended to make sure every student has an opportunity to take the common assessment.  And teachers would have the sole decision on whether to administer an end-of-nine weeks-exam, which if given, would factor into the second nine-weeks grade.

“We want students and parents to understand that if the proposal is approved, their grades in the first and second nine weeks are going to make up their semester average. The earlier they know and the more they know, the more they can put effort into the second nine weeks to ensure that their grades are what they want them to be in order to impact that semester average,” she said.

Trejo emphasized that the proposal is not to cancel ACP indefinitely, but simply to waive policy language requiring it as a weighted portion of the fall semester average and thus remove it as a mid-year assessment for the fall of 2020. At this point, she said, no recommendations are being made as to  whether to proceed with the end-of-school-year ACP because “we don’t know where we’ll be at the end of the year. This is a response to a need to hold harmless our students and to provide relief to our campuses.”

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