Monday, January 27, 2014

Benchmark Assessments Despite Unanswered Questions

As the Educational Management Services Director, I am frequently asked by assessment directors what content to include on benchmarks that will provide reliable and valid data for predicting how students will do on state tests. 

As the pilot testing of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments approach, there are still many unanswered questions:
  • What will the final items on the tests look like?
  • What will the verbiage be on the new material?
  • How will the final assessments behave? 
  • How will the new technologies lead students through the new innovative items?
  • When and how will the results of the tests be communicated to educators?
  • How will the results of the new tests be segmented into student achievement labels?
The list continues.

As a teacher or an administrator responsible for how students perform on these measurements - which are still being created and finalized - what can be done to ensure that students will be successful? I believe the answer lies in the standards. Common Core State Standards describe skills and knowledge that students will need in order to be college/career ready. The state tests are assessing these skills no matter how items are formatted and no matter what methods are chosen to administer the assessment. Teaching students these skills will ensure that students have the best possible chance to perform well on any type of test which may be administered.

Galileo K-12 Online benchmarks can help by assessing growth in student learning and standards mastery of Common Core State Standards, either by creating custom assessments which mirror district curriculum maps or by creating assessments that assess the standards on the released state blueprints, despite current uncertainties.

- Karyn White, M.A.
Educational Management Services Director

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