DCAS Part 4: The Plan, The Pilot, and The Rollout
With AIR selected in December 2009 as the vendor for the new Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS), the planning began for developing and implementing the new system. Even though it took longer to get the vendor selected than originally planned, the timeline for having the system on line had not been pushed back as the contract for the DSTP was scheduled to run out after the spring of 2010. The goal was for the new system to be piloted during the 2009-2010 school year and ready to come online in the fall of 2010. One exception to this timeline was made for the high school end of course exams, which will be field tested during the 2010-2011 school year and fully operational for the fall of 2011.
A number of schools and districts around the state were selected to participate in the DCAS pilot year. These schools piloted the exam a few times over the year and helped the state work through some of the technical issues around providing an online and adaptive test that needed to both fulfill the federal requirements for a summative evaluation and act as a formative evaluation to help classroom teachers. They also provided the initial data by which the initial proficiency cut scores were set for the exam, though those scores will need to be revisited after the first full year of implementation.
With the plan in place, the pilot began in the fall of 2009 amidst a host of other changes to the state’s education system. Between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010, Delaware committed to implementing new nationally benchmarked standards through the Common Core Standards initiative, began overhauling the state educator evaluation system (DPAS II) to require educator effectiveness, and entered and won the first round of the federal Race to the Top grant competition. Many of these changes made it even more crucial for the state to get DCAS right the first time.
So, the pilot year went well by all accounts, and the summer of 2010 brought with it lots of work, including ensuring that the technology was in place in every school to run the test, bringing teachers together to set the cut scores that students would need to reach to be considered proficient on the new test, getting the end of course exams ready to pilot, and working with teachers across the state to ensure they were ready to implement and use the new test and the data that would come from it.
This work is under way right now as schools gear up for the new year, and while there are likely to be a few kinks in the rollout of the new system, the policies, technology, and supports are in place to once again help push Delaware into the forefront of state assessment systems.
While this concludes this series on the development of DCAS, check back for updates on its rollout in the next few months, as the cut scores are formally announced and as the end of course pilot gets off up and running.