Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Innovation, Collaboration, and Empowerment: Essential Elements for Developing High-Quality Assessments in Non-State-Tested Subjects

In this new age of educational reform it is widely acknowledged that local empowerment, collaboration, and innovation are essential elements for building and sustaining success for students. For example, while state and federal agencies define and deploy large-scale, end-of-year assessments for use in high-stakes testing initiatives and while national consortia groups plan to follow suit, the educational imperative for reform is really at the local school district level and calls for the development and use of assessment tools in all subject areas (e.g., art, music, foreign languages, social studies, etc.) on a continuous basis to inform and empower instructional decision-making. 

It is here at the local level, and more specifically, within the classroom where education across all subject areas occurs. It is here, where the use of reliable and valid assessments in all subject areas to help inform instruction needs to happens regularly. And it is here where the intelligent integration between assessment, reporting, and decision-making leads to action aimed at elevating student learning. In this regard, assessment planning and test construction in all subject areas must clearly articulate local education goals and local pacing calendars reflecting the scope and sequence of instruction for the school year. Moreover, assessment tools in non-state-tested areas must be sufficiently flexible and readily adaptable in ways that accommodate both current and future assessment needs.  

Accomplishing these goals requires a change in direction – a change that calls for moving beyond the inherent limitations of fixed, static tests toward a more dynamic, collaborative, and locally empowered approach to assessment including the components of item development, item banking, test construction, and psychometric validation. This can be accomplished by taking advantage of the benefits afforded to local school districts and charter schools through new innovations in technology, research, and professional development currently being implemented by Assessment Technology Incorporated (ATI) in partnership with the educational community. For example, these innovations now make it possible and practical for school districts and charter schools to come together as a community and to realize their goals for developing and deploying reliable, valid, and fair assessments in subject areas not tested on statewide assessments. 

Now in its first full year of implementation across several states, the ATI Community Assessment and Item Banking Project is a way for school districts and charter schools to join together at the grass-roots level to develop a continuously expanding community item bank and locally designed “best-fit” reliable and valid assessments in non-state-tested subject areas. As part of the Project, ATI is assisting in the preparation of educators to develop high-quality items and is providing services related to professional development and training, standards-aligned item and assessment development, and data analysis research and reporting tools. As a result, participating districts and charter schools gain direct access to a continually growing repository of shared locally-written, high-quality certified items and customized assessments in areas not currently addressed on statewide tests.  

Participants in the Project benefit from the contributions of all participating districts and charter schools as well as the professional development provided by ATI, access to the Galileo Assessment Planner and Galileo Bank Builder technology tools and the research provided by ATI to help ensure the reliability and validity of assessments in non-state-tested subject areas.

What are your thoughts about this initiative? Please leave a comment to this post.

Interested in learning more or participating? Contact us at 1.877.442.5453 or at Galileolnfo@ati-online.com and go to: http://ati-online.com/pdfs/CommunityItemBankingProjectFAQ.pdf

- Jason K. Feld, Ph.D.
ATI Vice President Corporate Projects

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