Tracking student progress toward state-mandated assessments and outcomes was a challenge for the Park Hill School District just outside of Kansas City, MO.
Fifty percent of students in grades 3 through 8 passed the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) in communication arts and math. And teachers used classroom assessments to gauge learning. But the district still lacked the ability to consistently measure performance against the state's Grade-Level Expectations (GLE) or predict results on the MAP.
Jeff Klein, the district's executive director of research, evaluation and assessment, says the district was "tired of being surprised by scores at the end of the year."
The district knew it needed to find a better way of assessing progress toward end-of-year standards-based outcomes. To achieve that goal, Park Hill adopted the Acuity InFormative Assessment solution from CTB/McGraw-Hill. Acuity integrates predictive and diagnostic assessments, reports, instructional resources, item banks, and item authoring—all aligned to state standards and designed to improve student achievement.
The alignment to state standards and the technical quality of the Acuity Predictive Assessments were critical factors to Park Hill, Klein says. "We believe Acuity is the best benchmark predictor of the MAP that is available."
All students in grades 3 through 8 take the predictive assessments in communication arts and math three times a year; students in grade 5 take the predictive assessment in science as well. The assessments allow educators to accurately predict student performance on the MAP and to prioritize instructional plans to focus on areas needing improvement. "Acuity has helped us move from working on hunches to working on concrete numbers," says Klein.
Like the MAP, the predictive assessments include both selected- and constructed-response items. "Previously, our students struggled with demonstrating their knowledge and skills in the constructed-response item format," Klein says. "Acuity allows them to practice and prepare for these types of items."
A suite of reports available for the student, class, school and district levels enables teachers and principals to evaluate their instruction by standard. "Students' weaknesses can be identified and monitored as instructional interventions are implemented," Klein explains.
The accuracy of the predictive assessments is the critical feature for Klein and the Park Hill district. "Because Acuity Predictive Assessments are scaled within and across years, I feel confident about the inferences I make regarding students' growth," Klein asserts. "This is the only grade-level expectations-based product for which I could make that claim."
Since implementing Acuity in 2006, the district's performance on the MAP has improved 10 percent across the board, and at all grade levels students perform significantly above the state average.
With Acuity, the district is able to have consistent, reliable feedback that enables educators to focus on standards throughout the year. Better, more timely decisions can be made about programs and strategies based on needs evidenced through assessment results.
"Acuity has helped Park Hill take the next step into the world of standards-based education," says Klein. "It has helped teachers move from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning."
For more information on Acuity and to view a demo, visit AcuityForSchool.com or call 800-538-9547.