In the 2013-2014 school year, all schools will be required to have their students take the mandated common core end-of-year assessments. Although the interim assessments offered by the two consortia (PARCC and SBAC) will be optional, many districts will choose to administer them due to the fact that the only true way to ensure students will be successful on the common core end-of-year assessments effective internal progress monitoring and response to intervention. From my experiences working for America's lowest performing school district and later with an assessment development company, I have found that many teachers prefer to do their own progress monitoring rather than have their students, sometimes very poor progress, announced to administration through district or school wide assessment reports. If this is your feeling as well, then the tips shared here and throughout this blog will help you to develop your own internal classroom monitoring system, so that when your school or district is ready to administer an interim assessment, your students are better prepared to do well.
The first step to developing any interim assessment is to know what your students are supposed to know and by when they should know it. The common core standards are end of year goals. Therefore, students are actually not expected to know or have a complete understanding of these standards in full until the end of the school year, which is why the mandatory assessment is not given until the end of the school year. The interim assessments (i.e. benchmarks) should measure students progress towards meeting these common core goals. The necessity to know how far or close students are to meeting the common core goals is the main reason I favor computer adaptive testing. Some school districts have opted to provide funding for the use of effective tools such as Star Reading and Math from Renaissance Learning. I highly recommend Renaissance Learning as it is an endorsed partner of the common core standards and has been involved with the common core movement since it's inception.
There are several progress monitoring assessment tools on the market, however Star is one that I highly recommend due to the fact that it goes beyond just assessment. It also provides a way to help teachers in response to intervention. To learn more about Stars Assessments, funding and other products, please visit their website.
For teachers that don't have the luxury of having a program like Star, there are still ways to provide standard based assessments to your students to help you monitor their progress toward the common core. One way is by utilizing the standard based test generator that comes with most school textbooks. Holt books have what is called Examview and most questions are aligned to individual state standards. Because many school districts are currently or have already aligned and paced their state specific standards to meet the expectations of the common core, utilizing test generators that are aligned to your state specific standards can be a very effective way to monitor student progress at the classroom level.
The common core lesson plan templates we continue to refer back to keep teachers on track while preparing lessons to help their students meet the common core expectations. Your district's curriculum pacing guide should be an excellent reference as to what standards you should be teaching at any given time.
The next blog post will discuss analyzing your classroom assessment data to help you inform the instructional lessons you will lay out using common core lesson plan templates.