Friday, November 18, 2016

A School Asks... Common Assessments 101

A campus implementing the LYS Common Assessment model sent in the following implementation questions:


We have some concerns with the 30-minute time limit on common assessments.  For ELAR, there is a fair amount of reading a piece of text or multiple pieces of text before reaching the ten questions on the assessment.  As a department, we are ready to embrace the ten questions for an assessment.  Thirty minutes is not adequate time to read and annotate the text and then answer and justify/prove the answers.  Our question is can the students spend 20-minutes reading and annotating the passages and then give them the 30-minutes to answer the ten questions?  Additionally, how does this concept work with students who have IEPs stating that they receive extra time on assessments?

SC Response
Fantastic questions, and questions that prove the campus is really committed to making the common assessment process a valuable tool for monitoring and adjusting instructional practices.

The questions you have concerning ELAR checkpoints are not unusual.  You are correct, there can be a lot of reading involved and reading takes time.  Which means for an ELAR checkpoint the passage selection is the driving consideration.  Reading passages that lend themselves to multiple questions are significantly more useful than ones that do not.  Then it has to be decided if a “hot” or “cold” read will be used.  A hot read is a passage that the student has seen before, which means that they can process it more quickly and have time to answer more questions.  A cold read is a passage that the student has not seen before. These passages take longer to process, which means that they have less time for questions.

As you mentioned the 30-minute time limit is an important design element.  30-minutes protects instructional time. Exposure to more instruction is what drives student performance, not exposure to more testing.  A fact seeming lost by most schools, school districts and states.  Because 30-minutes is the driving factor, there will be many checkpoints that have fewer than ten questions.  And that is OK, because the checkpoint is assessing the critical concepts that had to be taught in the 3-week window, not every thing that was taught.

As for students with an IEP, time is a relative concept.  If it takes a student 60-minutes to answer ten questions, I can reduce the checkpoint to five questions for that student.  Or I could reduce answer choices, or I could pre-highlight passages. 

Keep working the process. With every checkpoint cycle things become more effective and more efficient.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
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