Purpose, Assessment Type, and Usage
Indian Prairie School District 204 (IPSD 204) has a set of six primary assessment tools used to evaluate different aspects of student behavior and achievement. The first is the Cognitive Abilities Test or CogAT. It is used for measuring the complexity of students’ thought processes and identifying cognitive issues, weaknesses, and strengths. CogAT is comprised of several blocks such as verbal classification, analogies, and sentence completion. It features open-ended and multiple-choice questions. It helps to build an educational profile for each student that ISPD 204 leaders use to adjust classes and curriculums. CogAT is a part of Project Arrowhead Testing developed by Indian Prairie CUSD 204.
Iowa assessment consists of three blocks: math, vocabulary, and reading. It measures the students’ level of knowledge and ability to perform in those subjects. Iowa uses a multiple-choice design and presents an opportunity for educators to measure student achievement and compare them to learners from other schools. The assessment tool is also a part of Project Arrowhead Testing.
Aimsweb test is an innovative solution from a private company that develops testing programs for schools. It assesses students’ proficiency in reading or math and determines if he or she needs specially-tailored education interventions. The test is comprised of multiple-choice, open-ended, and performance-measuring items. According to Indian Prairie CUSD 204, the school district is free to choose optional testing programs. It is currently a part of Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDI).
ACCESS (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English) test measures students in accordance with their language proficiency in ELLs. ACCESS utilizes a variety of designs for each block including open-ended, forced, and multiple-choice questions. The assessment allows teachers and the ELL director to determine if the student manages with the general education program in areas such as English language art, math, science, and social studies. The testing is certified by a multi-state organization such as World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA).
PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Assessment is a standard performance-measuring tool utilized in school districts across Illinois and the U.S. According to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) (ISBE, n.d.), it checks the district’s compliance with state educational norms by student ratings. The test itself uses open-ended and multiple-choice designs to assess critical thinking and subject proficiency. Local educators may find this tool useful for adjusting their curriculums to satisfy the state’s need for excellent school graduates.
Dynamic Learning Map (DLM) assessment is a substitute for PARCC used for testing knowledge and abilities in students with special learning needs. This standardized and ISBE-recommended tool is also helpful to teachers for creating and adjusting curriculum for children with cognitive impairments. It uses a variation of multiple-choice and forced-choice questions to measure students’ abilities in ELA and math domains. DLM helps foster inclusive programs for all children with diverse needs.
Alignment of the Assessments with Mission and Vision
IPSD 204 has a mission of helping students achieve greater heights of their potential. In order to create an environment for them to do so, the district has set out several goals including boosting students’ academic achievements through support programs, technological updates, and other initiatives. In addition, IPSD 204 strives to provide learners with skilled teachers and support staff, motivated to educate every student to the best of their abilities. To exercise those goals, the district plans to build an effective resource management system and become a more community-oriented entity.
The set of assessments aligns with the vision, mission, and goals of the district in a variety of ways. Firstly, it allows utilizing a multifaceted approach to testing by measuring cognitive abilities, critical thinking, problem-solving, knowledge, and expertise in all variety of school subjects and areas of learning. The results of all those tests combined provide educators with a complete profile of a student that identifies his or her strengths and weaknesses. Having such an instrument at their disposal, IPSD 204 is able to use it for constructing proper curriculums, forming classes to match everyone’s potential and needs. In addition, the assessment plan enables the district to exercise the data-driven approach to education, which enlarges its capacity to create an environment for the brightest youth in the state of Illinois.
As for the gaps in alignment, one could notice the insufficiency of science-oriented testing. While most of the assessment tools are aimed at identifying potential or issues in essential elements of a school program such as ELA and math, the other subjects such as history, physics, chemistry, and other disciplines are neglected by state-and district-certified assessments. Additionally, the competitive potential seems to be measured only through these two areas. According to Badders (n.d.), the constructivist paradigm, upon which many assessments are based, is aimed at building meaning. However, if the meaning built by students is assessed only in two major domains, the potential in other areas could stay dormant. Among other issues, PARCC identifies low success levels among children with disabilities, which may indicate the lack of interventions in their education program. According to Tweed (2007), a proper alignment must include action if the assessment tool signals inconsistency.
Calendar, Schedules, Time Allocation, Technology Utilization, and Staff Development to Support Teaching and Learning
At the beginning and the end of the year, students seem to be overburdened by a variety of tests and examinations. However, to address that, curriculums are often designed to minimize the number of classes during these periods. Such measure is applied in order for students to prepare or have time to attend. As such CogAT, and ACCESS are usually held at the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, Aimsweb can be administered four times a year and tied to the seasons. DLM is held on a continuous basis and has greater schedule flexibility than, for instance, PARCC. In addition, many of the mentioned assessments such as Iowa take about 30 minutes and do not require significant changes. Therefore, the testing and evaluation system in IPSD 204 seems to be in agreement with the curriculum.
Regarding technology utilization, most of the tests that have the writing part require a student to write by hand. In modern times, most communication is based on typed texts. PARCC, for instance, can be taken online but it is not yet a requirement for districts. Staff development needs to be addressed in a specific area of working with disabled children. As it has already been mentioned, the performance in this group is significantly lower, which requires elevated attention from teachers and the district education board. Commonly, the potential in those children could be identified and developed through an individual approach and hard work.
Badders, W. (n.d.). Methods of assessment. Web.
Illinois State Board of Education. (n.d.) PARCC place. Web.
Tweed, A. (2007). Aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to standards. Web.