FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
TYPES AND PURPOSES OF ASSESSMENTS
What is assessment?
Assessment is a process of gathering, analyzing, and using information from multiple sources to draw conclusions about students, subject matter, or curriculum.
Why do we assess?
Assessing allows educators to collect feedback to enhance learning.
How are the types of assessment different?
Diagnostic Assessments are given prior to a course, level, unit or lesson. They test students on what they already know. The results of these tests allow the instructor to adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of students.
Formative Assessments can be formal or informal assessments used throughout a unit or course of study to monitor student progress. The teacher uses the results to meet the needs of their students.
Summative Assessments are formal assessments used to measure what a student has learned at the end of a defined period of instruction.
Benchmark Assessments are an evaluation of student learning progress used to determine whether the students are on track to performing well on future assessments.
What is the purpose of diagnostic assessments?
Diagnostic assessments are used to determine the students’ level of knowledge, skills, and understandings at the beginning of a course, grade level, unit and/or level. They assess students on what they already know. Diagnostic assessments allow the instructor to adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of the students.
What is the purpose of formative assessments?
Formative assessments are used throughout a lesson, unit, or course of study to monitor student progress, so that teachers can adjust their instructional practices to meet the needs of their students. These assessments can be formal and informal.
What is the purpose of summative assessments?
Summative assessments are formal assessments used to measure what a student has mastered at the end of a defined period of instruction.
What is the purpose of benchmark assessments?
Benchmark assessments are used to evaluate student learning progress to determine whether the students are on track to performing well on future assessments.
What are examples of each kind of test used in my classroom?
Diagnostic- KWL charts, Running Records, and Classroom Diagnostic Tool
Formative- RSA, written responses, exit tickets, questioning, rubrics, and observation
Summative- PSSA, Keystone, LDC Essay, District Assessments, Performance Tasks, PSAT, SAT, ACT, and Final Exams
Benchmark- DIBELS, DRA, and easyCBM
What is the vision of the district with CDTs?
The CDT has been implemented across the district as a tool to measure students’ strengths and areas of concern. At this point the CDT will be administered twice a year in grades 3-8 for ELA and Math and in Algebra I, Biology, and Literature for students enrolled in Keystone courses.
Will CDTs predict state assessment performance?
CDT, PSSA, and Keystone Exams have different reporting scales. A scale score on one is not directly comparable to a scale score on another. However, they are all based on the same Eligible Content. It would be reasonable to expect that students who do well on CDT will do well on PSSA/Keystone and vice versa.
How do CDTs align with curriculum?
CDTs are aligned to the Pennsylvania Assessment Anchors and Eligible Content for a given grade and or course.
Will there be secondary course assessments in all content areas?
Course assessments are currently provided for ELA, Social Studies and Algebra end-of-unit tests. We also have LDC end-of-unit assessment essays. While we have the capacity to create district assessments for any course, course assessment creation will be based on need and available resources. A prerequisite for course assessment creation is that it is aligned to district approved curriculum.
Do the district assessments align with curriculum?
On unit, module, and district assessments all questions are created to assess grade-level standards that were taught in the period of time prior to the assessment. Additional alignment occurs on district assessments where question stems, formats, and point values are all modeled after PSSA/Keystone.
What are the advantages of testing online?
-Increases student engagement in the assessment process.
-Enables students to interact with the tests using built in features such as highlighters, calculators, and review tools.
-Test directions are shorter than with paper tests allowing the students to start testing more quickly.
-Makes assessments more accessible for diverse student populations.
-Eliminates the amount of work managing, storing, and returning large amounts of secure materials.
-Reduces issues with a student skipping a section or bubbling an answer in the wrong number.
-Eliminates test security worries.
Will we continue to move towards online testing? If yes, what is the timeline for online utilization?
The District is currently moving toward online testing. The District administers CDT's, which are online. Keystones are administered online at one of the high schools. Some schools have tested PSSA online as well with small groups of students. While a firm timeline for 100% online assessments has not been established, the District is moving in that direction.
What technology and system requirements are needed to complete an online assessment?
Each on-line test has specific requirements. The Information Technology Department will work with each school to meet those requirements.
What is NAEP?
NAEP, or the National Assessment of Educational Progress, produces the Nation’s Report Card, to inform the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States. Sponsored by the Department of Education, NAEP assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and other subjects, beginning in 1969. NAEP collects and reports academic achievement at the national level, and for certain assessments, at the state and district levels. The results are widely reported by the national and local media, and are an integral part of our nation’s evaluation of the condition and progress of education.
ASSESSMENT ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
To whom should questions be addressed?
State assessment administration, CDT, DIBELS, and easyCBM questions- Assessment Coordinator
SS district, ELA district, Math unit, and PSSA/Keystone assessment content-Director of Curriculum and Assessment
What changes are made to assessments due to teacher feedback?
If we are notified of an incorrect assessment item, it is immediately changed in the assessment bank and everyone impacted is notified of the error and any next steps necessitated by this.
What assessment can be used for progress monitoring?
The DIBELS progress monitoring tool can be used for this purpose in ELA and easyCBM progress monitoring tool can be used for Math.
What assessments can be used for Curriculum Based Assessments (CBA)?
The DIBELS benchmark assessment can be used as the CBA in ELA and easyCBM can be used for Math.
At what grade is it developmentally appropriate to bubble tests?
Although there are strong feelings and opinions on this topic, there is very little research. The district will continue to explore ways to measure student progress and proficiency that can drive classroom level, building level, and district level decisions around curriculum and instruction.
EXPECTATIONS FOR ADMINISTRATORS, TEACHERS, AND STUDENTS AROUND ASSESSMENTS
Which assessments are teachers expected to give during school year?
An Assessment Calendar is available through the district web-site that lists required assessments by grade level or by month.
Are the schools allowed to give their own assessments? STAR, etc.
Schools submit a Proposal if they wish to administer an elective assessment.
Who is paying for elective assessments?
The building would be responsible for payment for any elective assessment.
What is the accountability for using assessments?
Assessments, both formative and summative, are a vital part of the learning cycle and are a required component in teaching and learning. Accountability for assessing student learning is reflected through the Danielson Framework in the District's supervision and evaluation model.
When should I assess learning?
For assessment to be useful it needs to be part of the everyday process. Since the purpose of assessment is to improve the quality of student learning through teaching, it’s imperative to assess daily.
What is graded?
In accordance with the Master contract, Article VI, section AA, teachers retain the responsibility of determining grades. The district will provide common assessment tools such as End of Unit Assessments, Performance Assessments and other curriculum based assessments. Additionally,the district will provide guidance and recommendations for grading. Finally, any grading policy is available through the building administrator as per the Master Contract.
Should we continue to reteach until 80% of the students have mastered content?
Yes. A cornerstone of Erie’s Public Schools vision and mission is to, “…create an environment of high expectations, trust, collaboration and respect with the recognition that all students can learn.” This vision is lived through the expectation that 80% of our students can achieve proficiency. This does not mean that teachers should remain in a certain unit or teaching a specific concept with the entire class until 80% of the students have reached mastery. It is each teacher’s responsibility to ensure that the entire district approved curriculum is taught by year's end as this curriculum is tied to grade level standards that are often prerequisites for the ensuing grade. Instead teachers should use a differentiated approach to instruction, interventions, and multiple opportunities for success to ensure that at least 80% of their students demonstrate proficiency.
How should we be discussing and reviewing data?
Student assessment results and assessment data should be reviewed at the building level through the ILT. At the grade or content level, PLC is an appropriate forum to review student assessment data. At the classroom level, teachers should be formatively assessing student progress on a daily basis and using that information to make instructional decisions.
What are the expectations for assessments? Standards, etc
All assessments will be created with standards attached. ELA/SS assessments will have a standards crosswalk.
How are we preparing students for state assessments?
Teachers are teaching and assessing curriculum based on the Pennsylvania Core Standards. The Classroom Diagnostic Tool (CDT) is given in grades 3-12 in literature, math, and science. This assessment tool is based on the content assessed by the Keystone Exams and the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). It is used to help determine the strengths and areas of concern for the students so the teachers can better adjust their lessons for the needs of the students.
What are effective assessment proctoring techniques?
See ‘How-Tos’ for CDT for guidelines.
How can I best prepare my students for online testing?
-Strengthen technology skills by incorporating them into your instruction.
-Assign cross-curricular tasks so students learn to use their knowledge across disciplines.
-Promote technology independence by assigning tasks and scaffolding lessons to have students eventually completing tasks on their own.
-Provide practice of online tools through the state provided tutorials.
-Debrief with your students after a task or assessment to find their strengths and areas of need using technology.
What are we doing to adapt assessments for ELL and Special Ed Students?
After discussing this issue with the Special Education and English Language Learner departments, it was decided that we would do a disservice to our students if we adapted district assessments when these students have to take regular state assessments. Any accommodation allowable on PSSA or Keystone Exams is allowable for district assessment administration. Teacher discretion is encouraged for ELL students who have not been in school for at least a year or for PASA students.
Will a pacing guide be available for math?
A scope and sequence will be available for K-8 and Algebra.