Providing The Right Data to Guide Learning

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Assessments Must Measure What We Teach

This sometimes gets lost in the selection and use of assessments in our schools and classrooms. To see if our students are making progress in our classroom or school, the assessment needs to be well aligned to curriculum.

If not, then we sometimes cannot be sure what to make of the results as a student may have not done well because the test measured skills or content that was not aligned with our instruction and curriculum.

Does the Assessment Provide Immediate Results?

In order to intervene in a timely manner, our assessments need to provide immediate results. While some constituents can wait for end of year results, educators need to know right away who is doing well, who is struggling, and what they are struggling with. If we wait several months to learn how our students are doing, that represents several months of lost opportunity to support students in need.

Does the Assessment Provide Multiple Data Points over the Year? 

One of the reasons regular assessment with an adaptive test is so effective is that it provides multiple data points. A single summative assessment is one data point. A student who forgot to study or who is getting over a cold or who simply gets anxiety when testing can mean highly inaccurate data that will be referenced for a year or longer.

Track My Progress is built on the concept of using multiple data points over time to get a full picture of how a student is progressing, allowing you to adjust your educational decision making on a student-by-student basis. Here’s a prime example of a student who got a scale score of 615 in third grade reading. This puts her at risk for this school (in the 19th percentile) 

If only assessed once, this would lead to a vastly different program for this student. Fortunately, she has multiple other data points for teachers to review, with four other assessments over a one year period: 

These results put her roughly in the 40th percentile in all but the one assessment. This greatly changes the approach of teachers – one bad performance doesn’t fundamentally alter the education-plan for this student. 

To start, teachers can now easily evaluate performance of students over time, using computer adaptive testing technology to pinpoint their level of learning. This means the ability to track not only progress on an annual level, but also at a quarterly or monthly level. The data is more accurate because of how assessments adapt to students based on responses. Correct answers lead to more difficult questions, incorrect answers lead to easier questions, and teachers get more accurate data for every student. 

Does the Data Allow for Goal Setting?

Track My Progress allows you to establish end of year average scale scores, average yearly progress, and average weekly progress for students. This provides a baseline benchmark that defines the gap between underperforming students and their peers. It also allows you to establish accelerated progress lines.

With this kind of data, you can set a very specific goal for each student, evaluating factors such as their learning rate prior to intervention, their perceived motivation to learn, and how other students have responded to similar interventions. You may also consider the size of the intervention group and just how intensive you plan to make the intervention before starting. Using these tools, you can set clear goals and monitor them over time to improve performance for each of your students.

Does the Assessment Provide the Details to Really Understand Your Students

Sometimes we get assessment scores back for our students and there are a few scores that puzzle us. We wonder, “what did she do to get that score?” 

If we don’t have access to the assessment details for our students then we can not be sure what their true needs may be. For example, on one assessment we see a student scored very poorly. So we start to consider setting up an intervention to reteach the material.

But on another assessment we have access to each test question the student answered, the answer the student provided, how much time the student spent on each question and whether the student skipped any questions. If a student skipped many questions then maybe the issue is one of engagement with learning and not necessarily the particular material that was assessed.

If the student answered incorrectly only on math problems with diagrams and models, then maybe the issues is understanding visual information. The final test score is not enough, we need to see exactly what the test experience was like for the student.

Using The Right Data to Guide Learning for Your Students

Track My Progress is designed to provide the data insights you need to make customized decisions for each of your students. By collecting multiple data points, customizing test questions for each student based on performance, and tracking data over time, Track My Progress acts as the benchmarking tool you need to guide learning for each of your students.

Learn more about how Track My Progress fundamentally alters the approach to student assessment and intervention, and how it can benefit your students over time.

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