The Primary Benchmark Exam (Grade 4) and the Middle Level Benchmark Exam (Grade 8) will be given April 25-28, 2000, with makeup testing permitted until May 3, 2000. The field test of items for the Intermediate Benchmark Exam (Grade 6) will occur on April 26, 2000. An exact schedule for test administration will be included in the training. This schedule must be followed unless an alternate schedule has been provided by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). Any district with a conflict should request an alternate schedule immediately by letter or fax.
The field test of items for the End of Course Literacy Exam (Grade 11) will occur on April 26, 2000. The field test for End of Course Algebra and the End of Course Geometry Exams, which cut across more than one grade level, will occur on May 3, 2000. School districts will be randomly selected to take one of the field tests for the End of Course Exams. Districts will be notified before testing as to which End of Course Field Test they will administer. Field testing of items usually does not exceed 90 minutes.
Regional training meetings are scheduled for Testing Coordinators for the Benchmark and End of Course Exams. THE TEST COORDINATOR, PRINCIPAL, OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND BY REGULATION. See attached schedule.
Testing manuals should start arriving in the school districts April 3, 2000. Other testing materials will follow that date.
A random selection of school districts will be visited by ADE personnel during the testing schedule. ADE personnel will verify testing procedures and will discuss ideas and suggestions regarding the Benchmark and End of Course testing. All comments and suggestions were very helpful from the last testing, and all were brought before the Planning Committee for consideration and recommendations. There are changes in this year's testing which reflect those suggestions.
One of the concerns which has emerged regarding security for the Benchmark and End of Course Exams is that district personnel are not permitted to read test items or student responses. TO DO SO IS A BREACH OF SECURITY. There is an alert process for any open-ended response which indicates a potential problem--for example, criminal activity. The district superintendent will be notified by ADE if such a response occurs. The superintendent will make the decision about how to respond to the situation.
Please stress the importance of following all the testing and security requirements for this examination. ADE will investigate any testing irregularity in any regular administration of the Benchmark and End of Course Exams.
All of the assistance and support given by local school districts is greatly appreciated in the development and implementation of these Benchmark and End of Course Exams. The Department recognizes how complex and often stressful this process is, and appreciates the thoughtful reflections on testing results, and expressions of resolve to raise performance levels for all students across Arkansas. It has been very inspiring. Schools are encouraged to please continue the conversations with ADE on how to work together to improve learning.
Problems always arise during the testing period. Please contact Gayle Potter at 501-682-4558 (telephone) or 501-682-4886 (fax) if you have any questions. Also, send her all requests for alternate schedules.