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Articles: Assessment

The world of work is quickly redefining what it means to be ready—a broader set of goals that reflect fast-paced, complex and diverse workplaces. Students need to be great communicators, collaborators and critical thinkers who can tackle novel problems. To prepare students to be really ready for their futures, we must define what that means for them now—not just once they graduate from high school.

Many district leaders are challenged with developing whole-school, data-driven, prevention-based frameworks for improving learning outcomes for every student. Under the new provisions of ESSA, district leaders are also mandated to build curriculum capacity using a layered continuum of evidence-based practices and systems, to improve outcomes for students in Tiers 2-3 and special education.

Now more than ever, education leaders are being asked to develop assessment systems that support a huge variety of needs—student learning, system accountability, program evaluation and more—while providing the most value in the least amount of time. To meet this challenge, there are several principles that can guide administrators in creating the most effective assessment systems that meet their district’s needs.

In this web seminar, the vice president of education research at the NWEA discussed some of the keys to creating coherent assessment systems.

Built on proven best practices, and based on decades of firsthand instructional experience, the Dixon Nolan Adams Mathematics resources from Solution Tree focus on taking approaches to professional development that can enhance the knowledge, skills and effectiveness of mathematics teachers, promoting deeper student understanding and improving student achievement.

Is it possible to help low-performing high school students avoid remedial classes in college reading and writing? Leaders in many states believe it is indeed possible and are now offering or requiring “college prep” or “college transition” courses in high school. These courses are designed to ensure that low-performing students will have the reading and writing skills they need when they graduate from high school.

 Many changes under ESSA will help underserved students better prepare for post-secondary opportunities.

New series of toolkits designed to help administrators meet next-generation high school standards explains many of the ESSA law’s main components—particularly those that relate to educational funding.

Inquiry-based instruction allows teachers to translate the C3 framework for social studies standards into hands-on classroom lessons (Gettyimages.com: Henrik Jonsson)

Technology is quickly becoming a popular tool in social studies classrooms as teachers find ways to make history come alive for their students, who simultaneously learn about content and improve their technology skills.

Michigan has transformed its arts assessment model by introducing a website where teachers can share assignments and grade them using a common rubric. Many sample projects, above and right, were uploaded to the site during field testing.

Four years of development in Michigan has produced an arts platform where educators can share a curriculum and better methods for assessing student work. The instructional materials align with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which emphasizes the arts as part of a “well-rounded education.”

By revamping the much-maligned No Child Left Behind law of 2001 with the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, the federal government gives states more control over their own school accountability standards. How much change occurs will depend directly on each state’s legislative actions

Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor emeritus at Stanford University's School of Education, leads the national Learning Policy Institute.

Apart from the sciences, there are few areas as heavily steeped in research as education. But, as Stanford University education professor says Linda Darling-Hammond says, “too often, important education research is left on the shelf and not used to inform policy decisions.”

Never too young to learn money: A young student from P.S. 175 in Queens, New York gets a lesson on coin amounts at a Family Financial Literacy Night event sponsored by the Council for Economic Education.

More than 51 percent of young adults say a high school money management class would have benefited their lives, according to a study. While 45 states include personal finance in state standards, only 17 states require high school students to take a personal finance course.

Another group of states in 2015-16 deployed their own Common Core-aligned assessments.

Another group of states in 2015-16 deployed their own Common Core-aligned assessments, adding greater momentum to a national shift away from the PARCC and Smarter Balanced testing consortia.

Feedback in words: A Jefferson County Public Schools teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, gives a student feedback on a Common Core-aligned writing assignment.

More than five years after many states implemented Common Core, the impact on student achievement remains unclear—though some states show small academic gains, with persistent achievement gaps.

More assessment data is available to district leaders than ever before, providing insights into student learning throughout the school year and at the individual student, classroom, school and district levels. However, all of this data will not have a positive impact unless district leaders have a clear strategy to use the insights gained from assessments to inform crucial decisions.

Professional development is a key component of any district, but what takes professional learning to the next level of engagement and effectiveness is being able to differentiate and personalize professional growth for each teacher or administrator. In the recent Personalized Professional Learning Survey sponsored by Performance Matters (formerly Truenorthlogic), over 500 educators from around the country shared their insights on best practices and challenges for creating a personalized professional learning climate in their school districts.

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