As part of Westminster Public Schools’ reform effort to create an authentic learner-centered competency based system, the on-demand administration of assessments that align to our Measurement Topics and Learning Targets is critical. In our model, as time is the variable and the attainment of the Learning Targets (standards) is the constant, unique challenges emerge concerning assessment. A learner’s attainment of the Learning Target must be assessed when the learner is ready to demonstrate what they know and are able to do. So, rather than have all learners be assessed at the same time, they are assessed individually on a continual basis.
In Westminster Public Schools, we use the following assessment tools to determine instructional placement, progress and proficiency:
Scantron Performance Series
This is a valid and reliable nationally normed computer adaptive assessment for literacy, math and science. It is designed to be administered up to four times per year and allows educators to diagnose learner strengths and weaknesses, place learners into appropriate instructional groups, compare performance over time, and predict performance on the state assessment.
It also offers learners and teachers three opportunities to further learning. They are:
- Suggested Learning Objectives (SLO’s) that reinforce what the learner still needs to know.
- Skills Connection Online which is a feature that provides personalized study guides and sample tests for each learner.
Scantron Achievement Series
This is a powerful formative assessment platform that allows schools to create custom assessments that can be administered and scored online or they can be printed and scored with a scanner (or a combination of both). These assessments are known as Measurement Topic Assessments (MTA’s) and are created using the Scantron Item Bank, locally created items or third party item banks. On-demand MTA’s are created, published, scheduled, administered, scored, and reported with immediate feedback that provide educators with the data necessary to improve achievement. Performance data are available by individual learner, school, group, course, class, standard, Measurement Topic, Learning Target and staff member.
Performance Tasks are aligned to the standards and are the daily learning activities that occur in the classroom where the application and demonstration of knowledge and skills is required. They are assessed by specific criteria described in a rubric or scoring guide that mirror the task and the standards. These tasks are created at the Learning Target level and exemplars are provided on the District Wiki here.
What is the purpose of the Measurement Topic Assessment (MTA)?
The primary purpose of the MTA is to validate the students learning which the teacher has deemed to be proficient based on demonstrated performance and collected evidence. This approach assumes that the student is placed in the correct Performance Level for a particular content area and functions in the “zone of proximal development” (Vygotsky, 1978). A secondary purpose of the MTA is to ensure inter-rater reliability for proficiency for all students across the system.
What is the purpose of the Scantron Performance Series Testing?
The Performance Series test is administered for three reasons:
- Place new students into a Performance Level for literacy and math
- Provide data for teachers regarding students’ levels of proficiency on skills
- Gather district-wide data regarding performance on a nationally-normed test to measure the efficacy of system efforts.
What access do teachers have to the data?
All staff members have access to view Scantron data online. Classroom teachers will be able to see the testing results for any learners enrolled in their classes. Administrators, or those given administrator privileges in Scantron, can see the data for the entire student population. Building specialists such as SPED teachers, Counselors, Psychologists, ELA teachers, and Title 1 teachers can create either classes or groups for their caseloads and can view the data for those unique groups of students.
Each building has a Competency Based System (CBS) facilitator that provides training and support the Scantron assessment system for their school. These facilitators have the ability to create accounts for new staff members, add new students, schedule assessments, and reset passwords. Teachers who need help accessing data should first contact their facilitator and then should contact the Scantron Project Manager.
Where is learner Self-Assessment incorporated?
If Learning Target Scoring Guides have already been written in student-friendly language, the Scoring Guides can be used by the learner to monitor progress on a Capacity Matrix. The learners’ self-assessment can then be compared with the scores the teacher has determined. This should serve to facilitate some powerful dialogue between the teacher and the learner regarding the scores that most accurately represent the progress status at any point in time.
What is a Capacity Matrix?
A capacity matrix is a graphic organizer that allows learners to keep track of their progress and self-reflect toward achieving specific learning goals based on the Learning Targets and Performance Indicators. The Capacity Matrix unpacks the skill and knowledge contained within the Learning Target. Examples of capacity matrices for each content area can be found on the District Wiki here.