Explanation of the Purpose, Assessment Type, and Usage
CogAT or Cognitive abilities test exists to assess the student’s ability to think and solve a variety of problems. The assessment requires the completion of verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative assignments. It includes a combination of open-ended and forced-choice questions. CogAT allows identifying strong and weak sides of a student’s cognitive abilities that have a critical meaning for his or her learning process. In addition, it allows adjusting the class material to the needs of the student (Badders, n.d.). The test is recommended by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
DLM or Dynamic Learning Maps are exercised by district educators in cases when the standard assessment is not applicable to a student due to his or her mental condition. It is designed to establish a link between skills, knowledge, and understanding necessary to comply with academic content standards. DLM measurements are connected to Essential Elements (EEs) that represent the standard of knowledge and ability. EEs are subject-specific and usually include language, maths, and science. The test itself is performance-based, however, also includes open-ended and multiple-choice questions. The state of Illinois is the issuer of implementation, interpretation manuals, guidelines, and other materials for parents, educators, and administration of educational institutions. DLM is also used in Community Unit School District (CUSD) 203.
F&P stands for Fountas and Pinnell test. It is utilized for determining students’ reading. It measures students’ frustration, independence, and instruction levels. It helps tailor the instructions for reading and assess learning outcomes. The test requires no authorization by the state, and its use is voluntary. The design of the assessment is audio-cognitive. The teacher listens to a student reading certain texts.
IOWA measures students’ achievements against a nationwide sample of same-age schoolchildren in major areas of study such as language (reading and vocabulary) and math. The design combines performance-based, forced-choice, and open-ended tasks. By measuring the students through Iowa assessments, educators may determine the needs, strengths, and weaknesses of each student and the student body combined. The test is developed and recommended by the University of Iowa and complies with the CUSD 203 requirements.
ISEL or Illinois Snapshot of Early Literacy is designed for assessing the progress and learning performance of younger students in kindergartens and 1-grade elementary schoolchildren. It supports the early schooling system by aiding the design of educational programs for communicating basic literacy. It also determines if a child needs intervention to ensure his or her compliance with Illinois early learning standards defined by ISBE. The design is performance-based and multiple-choice.
PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is a performance-based exam that assesses the student’s knowledge, skills, and application. It measures critical thinking, writing ability problem solving and compares the results against ISBE learning standards. It allows schools to test their educational programs for compliance with state norms by the quality of education they provide to their students and graduates.
SAT Suite of Assessments is recognized and implemented in schools and colleges across the U.S and the world. It is comprised of Reading, Writing and Language, and Math tests that assess the student’s ability to implement the knowledge gathered for the whole term of their school education in a developmental manner. The test mostly consists of multiple-choice or open-ended questions. The assessment is held in 11 and 12 grades, which allows students, and educators to take action in order to provide better opportunities and address weaknesses in programs. In Illinois, SAT is regulated by ISBE that establishes the dates and norms for arranging and grading the tests.
Alignment with Mission and Vision
The district’s vision is “building a passion for lifelong learning” (Naperville 203, n.d., par 1.). The mission is to produce students with a variety of skills, competencies and with a vast amount of knowledge who are eager to engage in voluntary learning. The district’s assessment mechanisms and plan are aligned with the mission and vision because they allow monitoring adjustment. According to Tweed (2007), assessment is aimed at determining what students are able to do and the level of their knowledge. By measuring those parameters and comparing them with learning standards, district 203 can fulfill its mission of forming necessary attributes in a school graduate. By undergoing tests such as SAT or PARCC, students themselves can adjust their learning style and engage in additional educational activities, thereby enacting the vision of Naperville CUSD 203. The possible gap can be in adjusting tests such as F&P for a population of another ethnic origin, as their learning needs may differ. Diversity in Naperville is low which may undermine the education availability for ethnic minorities and, consequently, become a barrier to achieving the district’s vision.
Construction of Calendar, Schedules, Time Allocation, Technology Utilization, and Staff Development to Support Teaching and Learning
The tests except for SAT and ISEL are not strictly time-dependent, which allows us to administer them throughout the year as necessary. Time allocation in such circumstances does not present any issues. Introducing them to the curriculum is not a problem either as CogAT, for example, takes 30 to 45 minutes. Other tests also do not generally require an educator to allocate more than 2-3 hours for a test. As per the instructions, most of the assessments are developed by a group of professionals who also provide detailed guidelines for educators on how to facilitate them. For instance, ISBE provides publicly available test coordinator manuals for tests such as PRACC and DLM that contain all valuable information.
Technology utilization in 2018 is almost mandatory, as the majority of the occupations and learning opportunities require the usage of computers and mobile devices. However, most of the tests are not available online. PRACC and CogAT are some of the few exceptions. The technology could positively affect the curriculum, as it will no longer be necessary to be physically present in the classroom to take an examination. Thus, there will be no need to reschedule classes in most cases. Computer technology in the assessment will pose new demands for instruction as well. Facilitators will need to develop other means of ensuring a complete understanding of the test rules among students.
Staff development is also essential. In regard to testing, ISBE issues standards and guidelines for educators that address the organization, and assessments sometimes lack recommendations on the ethics side. As such, DLM can be considered rather sensitive due to the special status of the students who take it. Under no circumstances should they feel inferior or feel any pressure from facilitators, which should be a requirement postulated in official manuals. This adjustment will help deliver the best outcomes and ensure the fairness of the process. In addition, professional development has the potential to contribute to the development of curriculum and instruction should there be more emphasis on transforming the assessment results into teaching practice.
Badders, W. (n.d.). Methods of assessment. Web.
Naperville 203 (n.d.). Vision, mission and beliefs. Web.
Tweed, A. (2007). Aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to standards. Web.