District Adopts New Testing System

Galileo replaces Gains and EOCA assessments

By Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief

This year students found themselves on a computer as they began the process of assessing their skills at the beginning of a new school year.

The new testing format is called Galileo, and it is done on a computer. At the high schools, Galileo replaced last year’s Gains and End-of-Course Assessment (EOCA) tests to measure pre, mid, and post skill level. Galileo is also being used at the elementary and middle schools.

“It was looking at our old system and seeing kind of two answers. Seeing that we could have a better assessment [and] the other is that with Galileo it serves multiple purposes, it’s not just looking at student growth. It’s not just looking at attainment. With Galileo we are able to pull normed questions with psychometrics and data behind them. With all that information we can forecast how kids will do on state assessments, the ACT, etc.,” said Kurt Becker, Director of Assessment and Accountability for the West Bend School District.

Bill Greymont, principal of the high schools, says that Galileo has the potential to allow faculty to evaluate on an individual level what each student is struggling with as well as the class as a whole as the use of Galileo is mastered.

Standards are identified in each subject area regarding what students should be measurably learning.  “[The tests] are built on standards that the teachers identify. From those standards questions are pulled to populate the test,” Becker said.

Past tests taken by students were the same end-of-course assessment given three times a year in each class, according to Becker. For some kids, taking a test simply became memorizing questions at each benchmark point in the year. “It wasn’t as rich with what we have now with  the pre-assessments with Galileo. With Galileo, the pre, mid, and post comprehensive assessments will be different,” Becker said.

“I want to make sure that we are achieving what we are trying to achieve.”
– Superintendent Ted Neitzke

Testing three times a year is simply “best practice,” according to Becker. A pre-test allows for instructional planning to direct the year, a mid-test reflects progress, and a post-test allows for a final evaluation in academic growth.

“In a course we are teaching to these power standards, these big ideas and then that is what students are being assessed on three times a year,” Becker said.

Galileo also was implemented in the hopes of regaining instruction time forfeited to testing.

“It is the big thing, it is what we published in the newsletter and what we sent out in the welcome letter. It reduces the number of assessments you’re taking,” Greymont said.

NWEA tests administered on the computer at the elementary and middle school levels are no longer needed with the implementation of Galileo, according to Becker. Galileo has the ability to reflect growth and predict future success, previously achieved by NWEA. The NWEA test is no longer  necessary and instruction time is gained back, Becker said.

Superintendent Ted Neitzke says a survey will be distributed to teachers in October to gain feedback on the time required for Galileo testing. “I want to make sure that we are achieving what we are trying to achieve, and we want to get down to rich assessment data on our students that we can make important decisions on, yet we want to recoup time and make sure that that is happening,” Neitzke said.

Greymont says the motivations for standardized testing remain the same from EOCAs to Galileo.

“It’s the same thing we had hoped with the Gains assessment test. Assessment is a good, fundamentally research-based practice. Nobody argues about the assessments you take at the end of a unit with a teacher. What we hope to gain is it provides a teacher with a benchmark of kids’ knowledge,” Greymont said.

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