With a range of school districts adopting Tungsten Learning’s Benchmark Assessment System, the early response has been uniformly positive. At one school where the Benchmark Assessment System has been in use for two years—Collegiate Academy, Carter G. Woodson Campus in Washington, D.C.—administrators cite the program as one of the key reasons its students have been improving scores across the board.
“The most effective online benchmark and reporting system is one that helps raise student achievement,” says Michael Cordell, Principal, Upper School, Collegiate Academy, Carter G. Woodson Campus. “While it’s nice to know how students and classes are performing, it’s indispensable to be able to use that information to intervene in a timely manner with students ‘on the bubble.’
“That’s how I use data-driven formative assessment tools at our high school,” he adds. “I look at the data from an overview perspective to identify and quickly impact student achievement.”
The Benchmark Assessment System—an electronic, formative assessment tool—has become an invaluable part of the ongoing improvements at a variety of K-12 schools. As a division of Edison Schools, Tungsten Learning has leveraged the research and experience from hundreds of schools, thousands of educators, and millions of Benchmark assessments, to make the system the best that it can be.
Example: Historically, Colorado’s Fountain Fort Carson School District 8 (FFC8) has had low levels of student achievement, especially among minority students. In recent years there has been a focus on using data to help improve this situation and close existing achievement gaps. This initiative led District Superintendent Dwight Jones and his team to partner with Tungsten Learning.
The Benchmark Assessment System allows FFC8 educators to focus instruction with greater precision, ensuring that all students are making progress toward year-end Colorado standards. With this system, teachers can easily collect and then use data to analyze gaps and strengths for students, NCLB sub-groups, and entire classrooms. “I have 480 teachers using the Benchmarks, and not one of them has questioned its value in the classroom,” Jones adds.
Results in Fountain Fort Carson for the academic year 2003?04 were remarkable. Minority students performed signifi cantly better than average in every measure of the CSAP reading exam, and the district’s achievement gap narrowed. CSAP reading results for one grade level were so outstanding, that they completely eliminated the existing achievement gap.
The accountability behind the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act is a motivator, no doubt. But more important, the Benchmarks are an effective diagnostic tool that monitors learning, informs instruction, and increases achievement. Improved high stakes test results and NCLB success are two, among many, of the benefi ts.
Tungsten Benchmarks are given monthly, one in reading and one in math. Each assessment consists of 20 to 25 questions and is designed to be administered within a 40-minute class period. The Benchmarks are customized to meet state standards, as well as mirror the expectations and emphases of each state’s educational criteria.
It appears to be working. In 2003, schools using the program achieved one-year average gains of 6.7 percent vs. average gains of 2.5 percent in states where those schools are located. And at Collegiate, out of a graduating class of 150 last year, more than 75 percent went on to two- and four-year schools, including such top-tier universities as Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, University of Virginia, University of Maryland and Morehouse College. “Our success will make us even more successful,” Cordell adds. “When those [college] students come back and show the high schoolers what can be achieved, that’s the best selling tool we’ve got.”
To learn more about the Tungsten Learning Benchmark Assessment System, visit www.tungstenlearning.com or call 1-888.34.SPARK