In the Classroom

Do school districts need testing directors? Bill Roberts’ In the Classroom blog

A rift between the West Ada School Board and Superintendent Linda Clark widened this week as the board cut a testing administrator’s position that pays $100,000 a year.

The board has targeted the testing position since its first meeting in July with two board members elected in May, both of whom objected to the prior board’s vote in June to extend Clark’s latest two-year contract to a third year. First the new board delayed a decision on approving a job description. Then it ordered Clark not to fill the job until the board had studied the question some more.

Trustees voted 3-2 on Tuesday to nix the position, with newcomers Russell Joki and Julie Madsen joined by holdover Carol Sayles. They said they needed to be more mindful of how money is spent in the district, especially since they could be coming to taxpayers soon to renew a supplemental levy begun about four years ago to cover day-to-day costs in the district.

Their decision is the latest chapter in the unfolding Board vs. Clark fight. . Trustees have also questioned Clark’s appointment to the State Board of Education by Gov. Butch Otter and may hold a special meeting to discuss it.

But how important is a testing director, anyway? .

Districts organize themselves in different ways. The West Ada School District, the state’s largest, has had a testing director for 11 years. The Boise School District, the second largest, dropped its director about eight year ago. A handful of administrators and principals divvy up what would be a testing director’s job.

Boise provides results to principals who are charged with explaining them to teachers. Other district administrators use results to set up teacher training.

Superintendent Don Coberly interprets many of Boise’s test results himself. Coberly enjoys delving into statistical information and writes a regular blog on stats and education. “Because I have an interest, I think our folks really pay attention,” he said.

Teachers, administrators and parents at Tuesday’s West Ada meeting said the position is needed in West Ada to help educators understand test results and learn more about how testing works.

Which path is better? I don’t know . But clearly there is more than one way to oversee testing and disseminating results to teachers.

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