A Chronology of Events: 1978-1989


1978-1979

Florida's Eighth Statewide Assessment

In October 1978, a census testing of all students in Grades 3, 5, 8, and 11 was conducted with approximately 435,000 students tested. As in previous years, many of the items from former tests were replaced with new items which had undergone rigorous field testing/critiquing/revising procedures. Since the graduating class of 1979 was the first to be affected by the graduation requirement, all Grade 12 students who failed one or both sections of the 1977 Functional Literacy Test [now called the State Student Assessment Test, Part II (SSAT-II)] had the opportunity to take the test again. Approximately 35,000 Grade 12 students were retested during this administration.

In addition to regular students, those enrolled in adult education had to fulfill the graduation requirement in order to receive a high school diploma. Consequently, approximately 4,400 adult students took the SSAT-II in October 1978. All 11th and Grade 12 students who failed the SSAT-II in October were retested in April 1979.

Special Assessment

Beginning with the 1978-79 school year, the Department of Education initiated January and July special test administrations for adult high school students, regular students with extended excused absences, migrant students, and students transferring to Florida schools. These special test administrations were available, in addition to the regular test administrations, in October and April.

An 11th-year-in-school Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH) basic skills test was also under development. The first statewide administration was scheduled to take place in the fall of 1980.

In April 1979, 169 17-year-old Hearing Impaired students took the special basic skills test for Hearing Impaired students.

In 1978, an assessment of writing production was developed and administered for the first time in October to a sample of students in Grades 3, 5, 8, and 11. These tests were hand-scored and revealed detailed information about the students' abilities to compose understandable sentences, paragraphs, and letters.

Special test procedures were adopted for exceptional students taking the regular basic skills test. These special procedures included braille editions, auditory tapes, recording of answers, and special administration guidelines.

Compensatory Education

To provide remedial help for students, the State of Florida enacted a compensatory education program funded at a level of $26.5 million. These monies were allocated on the basis of the percent of students in the district who scored at or below the state's twenty-fifth percentile cut-off score, and each district received a share. The funds were to be used to supplement students' instruction and not supplant local or federal funds already utilized for the students. The monies went directly to students in the form of instructional services and were not to be diverted for administrative or other secondary purposes.

In 1977-78, many districts allocated their funds to high school students who had difficulties with the first literacy test. However, in 1978-79, more districts distributed funds evenly across the various grade levels.

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1979-1980

Florida's Ninth Statewide Assessment

During October 8-19, 1979, students in Grades 3, 5, 8, and 11 were assessed on their achievement of basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics on the State Student Assessment Test, Part I (SSAT-I). Eleventh graders took a second test which included the practical application of basic reading and mathematics skills to everyday situations. This test was the State Student Assessment Test, Part II (SSAT-II), previously referred to as the Functional Literacy Test. During the October 1979 administration, those students who took and failed the SSAT-II the previous year were retested on the section(s) which they failed. Approximately 115,000 students were tested in Grade 3, 107,900 in Grade 5, and 113,500 in Grade 8. In Grade 11, 103,900 students were tested on both the SSAT-I and SSAT-II. The number of Grade 12 students tested on the SSAT-II was about 14,600.

Students enrolled in the local district adult education programs also took the SSAT-II in October with about 1,900 adult students participating: 1,658 in communications and 1,954 in mathematics. Adult students were also tested in January, April, and July of the 1979-80 school year.

Exceptional Student Assessment

For those exceptional students participating in the regular assessment, special procedures or modifications of the tests were available this year. The following special procedures were delineated in State Board Rule 6A-1.943:

  1. Flexible scheduling—Test may be administered in short sessions over a longer period of time.
  2. Flexible setting—Test may be administered in a small testing room with few students or individually, with a larger desk/table provided for large print or braille versions.
  3. Recording of answers—Student may write in the booklet for subsequent transcription by proctor to answer sheet or student may say or point to answer for transcription.
  4. Revised format—Large print or braille editions of tests may be used.
  5. Audio presentation—Tape recorded version of tests or live presentation by test administrator (mathematics and writing items only) is permitted for certain students.

The rule also specified which of the above procedures would be permissible for the different exceptional groups. The district superintendents were authorized to determine the modifications that would be most appropriate for individual students.

Exceptional students eligible for exemption from the regular assessment included Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH), Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH), Specific Learning Disabled (SLD), Emotionally Handicapped (EH), and Hearing Impaired (HI). However, with parental and school authorization, any exceptional student could be tested on the regular assessment tests.

In April 1980, 82 17-year-old Hearing Impaired students participated in the special Hearing Impaired assessment.

Receipt of Regular High School Diplomas in 1979

In 1979, diplomas were awarded to regular high school students who (1) met local district requirements, (2) passed all of their school subjects, and (3) mastered the standards assessed on the State Student Assessment Test, Part I (SSAT-I). No diplomas were withheld on the basis of a student's failure to pass the SSAT-II.

Similarly, students enrolled in adult education programs were not held responsible for passing the SSAT-II in order to receive a regular diploma, but they had to (1) meet local adult requirements and (2) demonstrate mastery of all Grade 11 Minimum Student Performance Standards through local district certification.

Exceptional students (i.e., EMH, SLD, or EH) who met the regular Minimum Student Performance Standards requirement through local certification were issued a standard diploma. However, if special standards were met, these students received a special diploma. For example, EMH, TMH, and HI students had the option of mastering special standards as minimum goals. Emotionally handicapped students had the choice of mastering regular or EMH standards. Specific Learning Disabled (SLD) students, however, were required to meet the regular Minimum Student Performance Standards for the SSAT-I only in order to receive a special diploma.

Test Development Activities in 1979

The state’s available test item pool was expanded at all grade levels in 1979-80, with a contract extended to the University of South Florida to develop basic skills items for field-testing in October 1979 and to develop SSAT-II items for field-testing in the spring of 1980.

In addition, the Assessment Section began developing new item specifications for some of the 1981 Minimum Student Performance Standards and Skills which were adopted by the State Board of Education in April 1979. The item specifications described those attributes which an item must possess in order to qualify as a precise measure of a specific skill. The specifications were used to direct the writing of the actual test items. After the specifications were drafted, local school districts were involved in ensuring their validation.

The item specifications for the SSAT-II were also revised during 1979-80. A select group of educators from across the State met to draft the new specifications, and all Florida school districts participated in the review/validation process.

Following the development and validation of item specifications, test items were constructed for the 1981 standards. These items were field-tested in the 1980 school year and were ready for the October 1981 assessment.

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1980-1981

Florida's Tenth Statewide Assessment

During October 1980, students in Grades 3, 5, 8, and 11 were assessed on their achievement of basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics on the State Student Assessment Test, Part I (SSAT-I). Eleventh graders also took the SSAT-II. During the October 1980 administration, those students who had previously taken and failed the SSAT-II were retested on the sections they had not passed. A total of 111,915 students were tested on the SSAT-I in Grade 3, 1116,023 in Grade 5, and 110,045 in Grade 8. In Grade 11, 104,363 students were tested on the SSAT-I and 104,226 on the SSAT-II. The number of Grade 12 students tested on the SSAT-II was about 13,925.

The 1980 tests were based on Florida's Minimum Student Performance Standards adopted by the State Board of Education in 1977. These standards and related skills defined certain minimum competencies and covered broad content areas. All public school students were expected to achieve these standards.

Local districts had the responsibility of certifying when the student's skills, as measured by the SSAT-I, had been sufficiently developed. The Department of Education had the responsibility of certifying when a student passed the SSAT-II. If a student did not pass the test after attempts in the junior and senior years, a Certificate of Completion was awarded in lieu of a regular high school diploma. However, because of the Debra P. v. Turlington court ruling, this year's diplomas were awarded to regular high school students who (1) met local district requirements, (2) passed all of their school subjects, and (3) mastered the standards assessed on the State Student Assessment Test, Part I (SSAT-I). No diplomas were withheld on the basis of a student's failure to pass the SSAT-II.

Like regular students, those enrolled in adult education had to fulfill the graduation requirements in order to receive a high school diploma. Consequently, the SSAT-II was offered to adult students four times a year. (It was administered to regular school students twice each year, in October and April.)

More than 7,000 adult students took the SSAT-II from fall 1979 through January 1981. Again, because of the Debra P. v. Turlington court ruling, students enrolled in adult education programs were not held responsible for passing the SSAT-II in order to receive a regular diploma but had to (1) meet local adult requirements and (2) demonstrate mastery of all Grade 11 Minimum Student Performance Standards through local district certification.

Exceptional Student Assessments

The Assessment Program was also involved in the assessment of exceptional students. Forms of the basic skills tests and SSAT-II were provided in large print and braille for Visually Impaired students. Before graduation, Hearing Impaired students had to master a special set of basic skills for 17-year-olds. The HI test occurred in the spring of 1981. A statewide 11th-year-in-school basic skills test for Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH) students was field-tested in May 1981 on all EMH students (approximately 1,600).

For those exceptional students participating in the regular assessment, special procedures or modifications of the tests were available. These special procedures were delineated in State Board of Education rule: flexible scheduling, flexible setting, recording of answers, revised format, and audio presentation. The rule also specified which procedures would be permissible for the different exceptional groups. School district superintendents were authorized to determine the modifications that would be most appropriate for individual students.

Exceptional students eligible for exemption from the regular assessment include Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH), Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH), Specific Learning Disabled (SLD), Emotionally Handicapped (EH), Physically Impaired (PI), and Hearing Impaired (HI). However, with parental and school authorization, any exceptional student could be tested on the regular assessment tests.

In February 1981, Florida hosted a national conference on minimum competency testing for disabled students. Twenty-two states and more than a dozen large-city testing programs were represented.

In April 1981, the special basic skills assessment for 17-year-old Hearing Impaired (HI) students was administered to 96 students.

Item Specifications for the 1985 Standards and Skills

The Assessment Section was involved in the process of developing new item specifications for the 1985 Minimum Student Performance Standards and Skills which had been adopted by the State Board of Education in April 1979. (Although these standards were originally adopted for assessment beginning in 1980-81, implementation of the new standards was postponed until 1985-86 because of the Debra P. v. Turlington court ruling.) All Florida school districts participated in the review and validation of these specifications. The available test item pool was expanded at all grade levels in all subject areas. Contractors for new test items came from both public (universities) and private sectors.

Free Enterprise/Consumer/Economic Education Assessment

During the week of April 27-May 1, 1981, an assessment of Free Enterprise/Consumer/Economic Education (FE/C/EE) was administered to a statewide sample of more than 2,000 students in Grades 5 and 11.

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1981-1982

Florida Statewide Assessments

Over 400,000 public school students participated in the October 1981 assessment of basic skills in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. The State Student Assessment Test, Part I (SSAT-I), was administered to approximately 102,000 students in Grade 3, 111,700 in Grade 5, 106,000 in Grade 8, and 97,500 in Grade 11. Over 35,000 Grade 11 and 12 students were given the State Student Assessment Test, Part II (SSAT-II), the test of the application of basic skills to practical problems. Those students taking the SSAT-II during the 1981 fall administration were either new students or those who had previously failed the SSAT-II.

The traditional October testing of the SSAT-II was changed to the spring of Grade 10 during the 1980-81 school year. The first Grade 10 administration occurred in April 1981 with 108,000 students participating in the assessment. By spring of 1982, the Statewide Assessment Program had changed the fall testing schedule of both the SSAT-I and SSAT-II to the spring of Grade 10. The 1982 spring administration took place between March 22 and April 7, 1981. Approximately 101,000 Grade 10 students took the SSAT-I and SSAT-II, and over 18,000 Grade 11 and 12 students took the SSAT-II. A practice test was provided to assist districts in preparing students for the SSAT-II.

The earlier testing of the Grade 11 Minimum Student Performance Standards and Skills provided students with a longer remediation period, as well as an additional opportunity to take the SSAT-II.

Exceptional Student Assessments

The first statewide special assessment of Grade 10 and 11 Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH) students was held during the spring of 1982 in the form of a field test. A small number of Physically Impaired (PI) and Emotionally Handicapped (EH) students, as well as all EMH students, were included in this administration. Nearly 3,000 students took this test. In future administrations, only Grade 10 EMH, EH, and PT students were tested.

Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH) students had not been formally assessed in Florida since 1977. However, the Trainable Observation Rating Scale (TORS) was reprinted and reissued for optional local use in December 1981. The reprinted edition included a cross-referenced table which compared the 99 TORS objectives to the 1985 Minimum Student Performance Standards for TMH students.

The 17-year-old Hearing Impaired (HI) test was given in the spring of 1982 to 405 students. Beginning with the 1982-83 school year, Hearing Impaired tests would be administered annually in the fall to 11-year-old Hearing Impaired students and in the spring to 17-year-old Hearing Impaired Students.

Developmental work for the Visually Impaired (VI) student assessments included writing new braille items to replace specific skills which had not previously been transcribed into braille. The usual braille and large-print editions of the test were also provided for all regular test administrations.

Various modifications in the format of the regular assessment tests administered in April 1982 were incorporated into a Revised Format Edition of the SSAT-I for Grade 10 Specific Learning Disabled (SLD) students. Similar modifications were made in the regular third-grade assessment test for Grade 3 SLD students.

Writing Production Assessment

A writing production assessment was conducted on a statewide sample of Grade 10 students in April 1982 and on Grade 3, 5, and 8 samples in October 1982. Approximately 800 tenth graders participated in the spring assessment, and more than 2,000 students participated in the fall. The writing production test forms administered were revised versions of the earlier 1978 and 1980 forms.

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1982-1983

Florida Statewide Assessments

In its twelfth year, the Florida Statewide Assessment Program continued to test in excess of 400,000 students. During October 1982, the State Student Assessment Test, Part I (SSAT-I) was administered to approximately 102,000 students in Grade 3, 107,000 in Grade 5, and 109,000 in Grade 8. Students in Grade 11 were not included in the administration, since the traditional October assessment of the SSAT-I and -II had moved to March of Grade 10. (Full implementation of the fall assessment of Grade 10 on the SSAT-I and -II occurred during the 1982-83 school year.) Approximately 101,000 tenth graders took the SSAT-I and -II during the March 1983 assessment. The SSAT-II was offered during both assessments for Grade 11 and 12 students who had previously failed the test or were new to the state.

Implementation of a Scale Score for The SSAT-II

Much of 1982-83 was spent in various activities involving the Debra P. v. Turlington court case. However, another important activity concerned a change in the SSAT-II scoring system to an equated scale score. State Board of Education Rule 6A-1.942 (State Student Assessment Test Requirements for Graduation from High School) was changed to reflect the new passing scale score of 700. This score was determined to be equivalent to the passing score of the October 1978 test. The new scale score was used for the first time in the March 1983 SSAT-II test administration.

Exceptional Student Assessments

Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH):

The second statewide field test administration for Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH) students was conducted in April 1983. All Grade 10 EMH students along with some Emotionally Handicapped (EH) and Physically Impaired (PI) students participated in the assessment. Approximately 2,000 students took the field test. The test measured the new Minimum Student Performance Standards (MSPS) for EMH students. These standards were part of the graduation requirements for receiving a special diploma, beginning in the 1985-86 school year.

Hearing Impaired (HI):

The 11-year-old Hearing Impaired assessment was field-tested in the fall of 1982 with all of the 125 11-year-old Hearing Impaired students in the state participating. The special assessment for 17-year-old Hearing Impaired students was administered during April 25-29, 1983, with 253 students participating. The 1983 test administration included the field-testing of experimental items designed by Evaluation Systems Design, Inc., Tallahassee, Florida, to measure the 1985 Minimum Student Performance Standards.

Specific Learning Disabled (SLD):

Research studies of high school and Grade 3 SLD students were completed at the University of South Florida. These studies were designed to examine test administration and format factors which would improve the validity of SLD students' test scores.

Various modifications suggested by the research were incorporated into the revised format edition of the SSAT-I for March 1983 and in Grade 3 for October 1982. An analysis of results of these revised format editions yielded no consistent patterns of improved SLD student scores. The Department provided each district with a supply of sample tests for use with SLD and other exceptional students in Grades 3, 5, and 8. During the winter, a sample test for SSAT-I for Grade 10 was produced.

Visually Impaired (VI):

Large print and braille editions were provided to Visually Impaired students who needed them.

Test Development Activities

Tenth Grade District Item Bank:

In April 1983, the districts received a District Item Bank. This bank contained 400 Grade 10 items measuring the 1985 MSPS. These items were to be used by districts for assessment and evaluation tools and were to be kept secure. Districts could use the items for two purposes: (1) to document mastery of specific standards following remedial instruction, and (2) to develop a complete test parallel to the SSAT-I for use in assessing transfer students or screening students for skill mastery deficiencies.

A similar item bank for Grade 3 was planned for dissemination in 1984. More than 600 items for this item bank were field-tested in October 1982 and October 1983.

Test Item Specifications:

Final departmental and district review of the 1985 low-priority test item specifications was completed in April 1983. In January 1984, districts received complete sets of 1985 specifications covering all skills (both high- and low-priority) for all grade levels.

Writing Production Assessment:

In July 1983, using district personnel as scoring leaders and scorers, Planning, Development and Evaluation, Inc., of Tampa completed the scoring of the March 1982 and October 1982 writing production forms.

National Comparison Project:

This special assessment project was conducted in October 1982 to obtain data comparing Florida's Grade 5 and 8 performance on math and reading comprehension skills to that of students nationwide. Approximately 1,000 Grade 5 students and 2,500 Grade 8 students were involved in the study.

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1983-1984

Florida Statewide Assessments

During the October 1983 and March 1984 assessments, approximately 400,000 students in Grades 3, 5, 8, and 10 were assessed on achievement of basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics on the State Student Assessment Test, Parts I and II (SSAT-I and II). The SSAT-I assessed a total of 99,381 Grade 3 students, 103,432 Grade 5 students, and 117,349 Grade 8 students. During the March 1984 assessment, approximately 99,000 Grade 10 students were assessed on the SSAT-I and -II.

Standards of Excellence

On September 20, 1983, the State Board of Education adopted Student Performance Standards of Excellence in Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies for Grades 3, 5, 8, and 12. Contracts were awarded for the development of skill clarification statements, general assessment strategies, and item specifications for certain high-priority skills in the four curriculum areas. These Standards of Excellence indicated the level of student performance expected of high performing students.

District Item Bank for Grade 3

In the spring of 1984, districts received a District Item Bank for Grade 3. The 600 items measured the 1985 Minimum Student Performance Standards and were to be used in the same way as the tenth-grade item bank distributed in 1983.

Review of SSAT-II Passing Score

Beginning in March 1984, tenth graders would take a new version of the State Student Assessment Test, Part II (SSAT-II), measuring the revised (1985) Minimum Student Performance Standards (MSPS).

On November 18, 1983, a committee had met with staff members of the Student Assessment Section in Tallahassee to explore this matter and to recommend a new passing score. The committee included classroom teachers, administrators, curriculum/instructional leaders, a testing and evaluation specialist, and lay citizens. The committee's recommendations were made to the Commissioner of Education who, in turn, made recommendations to the State Board of Education.

Exceptional Student Assessment Activities

Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH):

The third statewide administration for Grade 10 EMH, as well as some Emotionally Handicapped (EH) and Physically Impaired (PI), students was conducted during April 3-13, 1984. The test measured the 1985-86 Minimum Student Performance Standards (MSPS) for EMH students. These are the standards that EMH, EH, and PI students must master as part of the requirements for receiving a special diploma beginning in the 1985-86 school year. Tenth-grade students who failed to master the standard(s) tested on the 1984 assessment were required, following remedial instruction, to demonstrate mastery of the standards they had failed before being awarded a diploma in 1986.

Hearing Impaired (HI):

In February 1984, the State Board of Education changed the HI Minimum Student Performance Standards (MSPS) from age levels to grade levels. The MSPS were then set for pre-kindergarten and Grades 3, 5, 8, and 11.

The Grade 5 HI field test took place October 24 - November 1, 1983, with 136 students participating in the assessment. Measurement, Inc., of Durham, North Carolina, produced the materials for this test.

The special assessment for Grade 11 HI students was administered April 2-12, 1984, to 259 students. A review committee had met in December 1983, prior to the spring administration. The 1984 test administration included the field-tested experimental items designed by Measurement Incorporated to test the 1985 MSPS. This was the final administration of the 1977 MSPS test. The spring 1985 test for all Grade 10 and 11 HI students would be based upon the 1985 adopted MSPS.

Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH):

To aid school districts with the assessment of student performance on the 1985 Grade 11 TMH Minimum Student Performance Standards, the Assessment, Testing, and Evaluation Section developed new procedures. Personnel from selected districts met during the summer of 1983 to discuss development of an assessment instrument. Florida State University (FSU) was contracted to develop guidelines (specifications) and sample items for assessing the TMH MSPS. This development required active district involvement in reviewing the materials. FSU sent each district coordinator a form to complete and return which indicated whether or not district personnel would review the TMH materials. These assessment items were pilot-tested in late 1984.

Specific Learning Disabled (SLD):

Research studies on test modifications for high school and Grade 3 SLD students were completed by the University of Florida and the University of South Florida. The studies were designed to examine test administration and format factors which would improve the validity of SLD students' test results.

Various modifications suggested by the research were incorporated into the revised format edition of the SSAT-I for March 1983 and in Grade 3 for October 1982. An analysis of results of these revised format editions yielded no consistent patterns of improved SLD student scores. The only reliable tool for improving SLD student performance appeared to be practice; therefore, the Department provided each district with a supply of SSAT-I sample tests for use with SLD and other exceptional students in Grades 3, 5, 8, and 10.

Visually Impaired (VI):

Large-print and braille editions of each test, including the HI and EMH tests, were made available for Visually Impaired students who needed them.

During the summer and fall, there was a continuation of research into the skills eliminated from the braille edition of the SSAT-II. Results indicated that it was possible to provide an alternative measure for nearly all of the skills that, due to their visual nature, had been taken off of the braille test. For example, math skill #130, which dealt with money, could be tested using real coins and facsimile bills; and communications skill #46, the completion of forms and applications, could be addressed by a series of items that dealt with the terminology used on the forms.

State Board Rule Amendment:

In February 1984, the State Board of Education amended SBE Rule 6A-1.943. These changes had a significant affect upon exceptional students because the child's handicap classification no longer determined which test modifications the student was permitted to use. A list of test administration and format modifications was provided to school district staff who were responsible for determining the appropriate test modifications for each exceptional student participating in the testing program. The modifications were expanded to include sign language and oral interpretation for Hearing Impaired students. The "oral interpretation" modification is a technical term that refers to a type of oral expression used for lip reading. It does not mean rephrasing or otherwise assisting students with understanding the test questions.

In addition to the expansion of the test modifications, one new component was added to the rule to cover unforeseen circumstances. A school district superintendent could petition the Commissioner of Education for special modifications or exemptions to aid an exceptional student with extraordinary circumstances not covered by the guidelines provided to districts.

Public Hearings on the Statewide Assessment

In response to a request from the 1983 Florida Legislature, the Department of Education surveyed all school districts and many educational organizations and associations. As a result, the Department conducted public hearings to determine the best steps to take in improving and expanding the Minimum Competency Program to provide a more significant challenge for Florida public education. The recommendations which were made included merging the SSAT-I and -II, changing test administration to earlier in March, and providing an essay exam for Grade 8.

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1984-1985

The October 29, 1984, administration of the SSAT-I included approximately 99,076 third graders, 103,667 fifth graders, and 121,254 eighth graders. There were two versions of the SSAT-II: one based on the 1977 Minimum Student Performance Standards and the other based on the 1985 standards. The SSAT-II was administered to retained students in Grade 10 and Grade 11, and Grade 12 students who had not yet taken the test.

In response to suggestions from the districts, the Department divided the fifth- and eighth-grade tests into four sections. Sections 1 and 2 contained mathematics items and sections 3 and 4 contained communications items. The October test assessment also included field-testing of nine experimental forms at Grade 3.

The March 1985 SSAT-I and -II assessment included approximately 100,000 Grade 10 students.

Test Development Projects

Test Development Activities:

The Department had two contracts with the University of South Florida (USF) for the development of new test items and the revision of some old items. The first USF contract produced a total of 235 new and revised items for Grade 10, including 130 SSAT-I communication items, 70 SSAT-II communications items, and 35 SSAT-II mathematics items. These items were field-tested during the March 1985 assessment. The second contract was for the development of 250 new test items for Grades 5 and 8. The items included 95 communications items and 25 mathematics items for Grade 5 and 120 communications items and 10 mathematics items for Grade 8. These items were field-tested in October 1985.

Writing Production:

In May of 1984, the Department of Education contracted with Florida State University (FSU) for the purpose of investigating the writing production methodology of the Statewide Assessment Program, i.e., what changes might be made in writing materials, scoring guides, and techniques. A task force met on May 30-31, 1985, to review the findings of the study and make recommendations for future direction.

Practice Tests:

In the fall of 1984, an updated version of the SSAT-II practice test and manual based on the revised (1985) Minimum Student Performance Standards was sent to districts. A practice test and administration manual for Grade 3 were distributed to districts during February 1985. The purposes of the practice tests were:

  1. To help reduce test anxiety;
  2. To familiarize students with the style and format of the 1985 version of the SSAT; and
  3. To give Grade 3 students practice in marking their answers properly for accurate scoring.

Standards of Excellence

Item specifications for Standards of Excellence were developed in the areas of writing, science, and mathematics by Dade County. These specifications were for certain high-priority skills in each of the areas. On September 21, 1984, copies of the specifications were sent to each district for final review. All comments and suggestions were due back on November 8, 1984. These comments were reviewed by Department staff and curriculum specialists in an effort to make modifications where needed. Specifications were expected to be printed and distributed to all districts during 1986.

Item specifications for social studies were developed by Florida State University and underwent extensive review and revision during 1984-85.

Phase 2 of this project involved the development of test items. Dade County was given the contract for this item development project.

Free Enterprise/Consumer/Economic Education Assessment

By November 5, 1984, district coordinators were notified as to which schools would be participating in the April 1985 Free Enterprise/Consumer/Economic Education Assessment. Only a sample of students at Grades 5, 8, and 11 were tested.

Districts could have elected to test all students in Grades 5, 8, and/or 11. The cost of this testing was $2.50 per student.

During the week of April 9-12, 1985, test materials were delivered to selected districts from the Department's test support contractor, Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation Associates (IDDEA). The assessment was conducted April 16-22, 1985.

Exceptional Student Assessment Activities

Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH):

The fourth statewide test administration (based on the 1985-86 MSPS) for EMH students was conducted during the period March 20 - April 9, 1985. The results were sent to the districts in early June. All Grade 10 EMH students, as well as some Emotionally Handicapped (EH) and Physically Impaired (PI) students, were administered the test. Also, Grade 11 students new to Florida or absent during previous administrations were administered the test.

Hearing Impaired (HI):

In February 1984, the State Board of Education changed the HI Minimum Student Performance Standards so that they would be based on (or keyed to) grade levels rather than age levels. Statewide Assessment Tests existed only for the fifth- and elevevnth-grade MSPS. The Grade 5 test was administered in the fall of the year. Beginning in April 1985, Grade 10 students were tested on the Grade 11 MSPS in the spring.

A special field test for Grade 5 HI students was administered September 19-28, 1984, to 154 students. This was the last in a series of three field tests of this age/Grade level; a regular assessment was scheduled for fall 1985.

The special assessment for Grade 10 and 11 HI students occurred April 1-12, 1985. This was the first assessment measuring the 1985 MSPS for HI students. The 1985 assessment also included experimental items designed by Measurement Incorporated (MI), Durham, North Carolina. All HI students in Grades 10 and 11 were included in the April 1985 assessment because the Grade 11 students who were required to master the 1985 MSPS did not have a test covering these standards available to them in 1984. Spring assessments after 1985 involved Grade 10 students and any Grade 11 or 12 students new to Florida.

Visually Impaired (VI):

Again, large-print and braille editions of each test, including the HI and EMH tests, were available for VI students who needed them.

During summer and fall of 1985, research continued on alternative ways to measure skills that had been eliminated from the braille edition of the SSAT-II. A special braille field test was planned to coincide with the regular October 1985 assessment. The test was to contain items which were designed as alternative measures of the skills that had traditionally been eliminated from the braille editions of the SSAT-II. All Grade 11 and 12 braille readers were to participate in the special field test.

Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH):

To aid the districts with the assessment of student performance on the 1985 Grade 11 TMH Minimum Student Performance Standards, the Assessment Section continued the process of developing procedures. Personnel from selected districts, including representatives from each region, examined the results of the pilot-tested sample items. Specifications, sample items, and a record-keeping system were progressing on schedule.

Exceptional Student Item Pool:

As of 1984, the Department only had tests for HI students in Grades 5 and 11 and EMH students in Grade 10, and the Grade 11 TMH test was under development. No additional tests were planned, even though there were MSPS for several other Grade levels for HI, EMH, and TMH. Instead, the Department surveyed districts to determine what locally-developed test materials existed measuring the MSPS for HI at pre-K and Grades 3 and 8, as well as EMH and TMH students at Grades 3, 5, and 8. The materials produced by districts were sent to the Assessment Section and reviewed for appropriateness. These materials were used to develop a district item pool to be used for local certification of mastery procedures or as models for the development of more tests by local personnel.

District Item Banks for Grades 5 and 8

The Department planned to develop district item banks for Grades 5 and 8. This project continued similar test development efforts which had been conducted in the past at Grades 3 and 10.

National Achievement Comparison Project

The National Achievement Comparison Project was a special project which took place in Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia to link these states to the nation through a special subset of NAEP test items. A sample of Grade 11 students from selected schools was tested on reading in April 1985. This project was in keeping with the Board of Education's "upper quartile" goal and the provisions of the 1984 Omnibus Educational Act. This provided an efficient means of obtaining reliable national comparison data for Florida. Similar techniques could also be used at the local district level to obtain the same type of information.

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1985-1986

The October 1985 administration of the SSAT-I included approximately 103,113 Grade 3rs, 101,987 fifth graders, and 117,145 eighth graders. There was one version of the SSAT-II based on the 1985 standards. The SSAT-II was available to students in Grades 10, 11, and 12 who had not yet taken the test, and any student who had failed one or both parts in past assessments.

The October assessment also included 10 experimental forms at Grade 5 and 14 experimental forms at Grade 8.

The March 1986 SSAT-I and -II administration included approximately 106,815 tenth graders. For the first time, there were three forms of the SSAT-II, each with embedded experimental items.

Test Development Projects

Test Development Activities:

In October 1985, a total of 289 new test items were field-tested: 153 for Grade 5 and 146 for Grade 8. These items were developed by the University of South Florida during the previous year. No new items were field-tested in March 1986.

Although no new test development projects were undertaken during 1985-86, the Assessment, Testing, and Evaluation Section began a survey of the existing item pool for items which should be revised and refield-tested. These items included some which had not been used for a number of years and others that had never been used on an actual test because the original field-test data indicated possible problems with the items.

Practice Tests:

Practice tests and manuals for Grades 5 and 8 were developed during 1985-86 for the October 1986 assessment. A practice test for the Grade 10 SSAT-I was also planned for distribution during 1986-87. With the publication of these three tests, districts had practice tests available for all of the State Student Assessment Tests.

Standards of Excellence

Following final district validation of the high-priority item specifications for Standards of Excellence in writing, science, and mathematics, a contract was awarded to Dade County for the incorporation into the specifications of the required modifications.

Item specifications for social studies had undergone extensive review and revision during 1984-85. Incorporation of these revisions was also part of the Dade County contract. The social studies specifications were sent to districts for final validation during 1986-87. Final versions of all high-priority Standards of Excellence specifications were sent to districts in 1987.

Free Enterprise/Consumer/Economic Education Assessment

In March 1986, the Department of Education distributed a Request for Proposals for activities related to the April 1987 Free Enterprise/Consumer/Economic Education Assessment. Scholastic Testing Service, Inc., of Bensenville, Illinois, contracted to develop 300 new test items at Grades 5, 8, and 11, to format, print, and distribute test materials, and to do the scoring and reporting.

The items were written, and a small pilot test was conducted on them in Illinois in November. A committee of Florida teachers, professors, and curriculum supervisors met in December in Tallahassee to review the new items. Using data from the pilot test, revisions were made to the items and a larger pilot test was planned for January 1987.

Exceptional Student Assessment Activities

Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH):

The fifth statewide test administration (based on the 1985-86 MSPS) for EMH students was conducted during the period March 18 - April 9, 1986. The results were sent to the districts in early June. All Grade 10 EMH students, as well as some Emotionally Handicapped (EH) and Physically Impaired (PI) students, were administered the test. Also, those Grade 11 students who were new to Florida or who were absent during previous administrations were administered the test.

Hearing Impaired (HI):

The special assessment for Grade 5 HI students was administered October 14-25, 1985, to 128 students.

The special assessment for Grade 10 HI students was given April 7-15, 1986, with 195 students participating. All Grade 10 HI students were included, as were Grade 11 and 12 students who were not previously tested. The Special Assessments for HI students for Grades 5 and 10 were developed by MGT of America, Inc., Tallahassee, Florida.

Visually Impaired (VI):

Again, large-print and braille editions of each test, including the HI and EMH tests, were available for VI students who needed them.

Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH):

The Assessment Section continued to develop procedures to aid the districts with the assessment of student performance on the 1985 Grade 11 Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH) Minimum Student Performance Standards. Personnel from selected districts, with representatives from each region, examined the results of the pilot-tested sample items. Specifications, sample items, and a record-keeping system were progressing on schedule.

District Item Banks for Hearing Impaired (HI) Students:

On February 17, 1986, a set of District Item Banks for HI students was sent to each district coordinator of accountability. The test included items for pre-Kindergarten, as well as Grades 3, 8, and 11.

In creating these item banks, the Department reviewed items contributed by districts over the past several years and made revisions where necessary. However, no new items were written. Therefore, not all skills were represented in these item banks. In addition, no Grade 5 items were submitted by districts, so there wasn't an item bank for Grade 5 at the time.

The District Item Banks for HI students were secure documents. The items were not to be used as practice exercises but were to be used to certify student mastery of the Special MSPS for HI students. The Department recommended that each district Coordinator of Accountability work with the HI Program Coordinator to determine the most efficient methods for storing and maintaining the item banks in a secure manner and for controlling access to the materials.

District Item Banks for Grades 5 and 8

In April 1986, the Department distributed district item banks for Grades 5 and 8. This project was a continuation of similar test development efforts which were conducted in the past at Grades 3 and 10.

Science and Computer Literacy

In the fall of 1985, the State Board of Education adopted Minimum Student Performance Standards in the areas of science and computer literacy. In December 1985, the Department released Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the development of test item specifications for all computer literacy skills and for 106 science skills which had been identified as "high priority" by district and Department personnel. Contracts were awarded to the University of South Florida for the completion of the work. Final specifications were disseminated to districts in the spring of 1987. Development of test items was also scheduled for the 1986-87 school year.

Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)/National Assessment For Educational Progress (NAEP)

Florida participated for the second year in a multi-state project coordinated by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in Atlanta, Georgia. The special project took place in Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana to link these states to the nation through a subset of National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) items. Samples of Grade 11 students from selected schools were tested in reading and writing in April 1986. This project was in keeping with the Board of Education's "upper quartile" goal and the provisions of the 1984 Omnibus Education Act. This project provided an efficient means of obtaining reliable national comparison data for Florida. Similar techniques could also be used at the local district level to obtain the same type of information.

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1987-1989

Was not provided.