As one who works exclusively with districts that design their own assessments using the Galileo tools, benchmark assessment planning is the focus of my time at this point in the year. Fortunately, assessment planning doesn’t require participation of a rocket scientist. My advice is to keep a couple basic principles in mind: keep it simple, and let the system work for you. If there is not a strong reason to get fancy with your testing, then don’t! You’ll be spinning your wheels just to end up at the same place you would be if you let the ship fly on autopilot. What do I mean? Well, ATI has a series of ready-to use comprehensive assessments and a whole system built around them to provide reliable growth and achievement data that teachers can use to quickly see and target areas of student weakness. A good standard approach is a pretest, 1 to 3 mid-year benchmarks, and a posttest. And while certainly it is true that we don’t want to over-burden and discourage students with comprehensive tests that repeatedly test them on areas where they have not yet received instruction, ATI’s comprehensive pre- and posttests can be combined with quarterly or other periodic curriculum-aligned assessments designed by the district to effectively glean both the information on annual performance that administrators want to see, and the information on student progress that teachers need to support their vital and central role in the educational process.
In Galileo’s Assessment Planner, the districts that choose to design their own tests can select the standards desired for each curriculum-aligned test and the number of items needed for each standard. We do the rest! Whenever questions come up, ATI’s trained and experienced staff is here to offer guidance and support. Keep in mind, the Test Review phase of test construction is your opportunity to tweak the particular items on a test, not a license to turn it inside out. Why? Because the drafts we deliver have been carefully balanced and designed to provide the best, most reliable data that can be provided within the confines of the particular blueprint; too many changes to the test carry the possibility of unknowingly upsetting that balance and causing that reliability to drift. So, keep it simple, enjoy your summer, and let Galileo work for you.
Ben Tucker, Educational Management System Coordinator