It takes six to eight weeks to create a benchmark assessment. Leaving plenty of time will result in a great product. The first step is to submit assessment plans to ATI. Two weeks later, drafts will be delivered to the district for review. The reviews should then be completed and returned to ATI within two weeks. The final step is for ATI to finalize, publish, and place the assessments into the district secure library for printing, scheduling, and administration.
Step 1: Planning the Assessments
In this step, districts decide what standards will be included on each assessment. The following are a couple of points to keep in mind:
- A total of three to four assessments per year is suggested.
- All teachers need to know which standards will be assessed on each assessment.
- It is suggested to limit assessments to 35 to 50 items (seven to 20 standards).
- Only five items maximum are needed for each standard.
- Limit the number of reading texts on an assessment by putting all standards for similar genres on the same assessment. If five items are requested for one narrative, one expository, and one persuasive standard, up to 15 texts may be needed to cover the requested items. On the other hand if three standards which all relate to expository content are picked, the number of texts required to be read to answer all the questions on the assessment will be greatly reduced.
Another type of standard to watch for is the compare and contrast standards. Requesting five items, when each item needs to compare two stories, leads to at least 10 texts. Keeping standards for the same genre together on one assessment will help on these items because the texts will be able to be used to assess multiple standards.
Step 2: Reviewing the Drafts
In this step, districts review the assessments to pick the items located in the item banks which best serve district needs. The following are a couple of points to keep in mind:
- Items should range in difficulty in order to provide information concerning all the students in the group.
- Limit the number of reviewers. More reviewers make it more difficult to make a final decision. It is best to have a couple of key individual reviewers who are very familiar with the districts curriculum, teachers, and goals.
- If possible, use the items which are provided on the assessment. These items most likely have proven parameters which will help provide you with important information concerning student performance on the assessment.