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Articles: Assessment

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart strives to bring equity, pride and higher achievement to a once-struggling district that is far more diverse than the rest of Iowa. A garden of multicolored poles students have installed outside one low-income school taunt would-be vandals and represents Ahart's belief in the transformative power of education.

In Clear Lake Middle School, part of Clear Lake Community School District in northern Iowa, teachers have time every week to access student data and tailor instruction.

A northern Iowa principal has set aside time for teachers to dig into test data so they can adjust instruction and improve achievement on state tests.

Renee A. Foose is superintendent of Howard County Public School System in Maryland.

Student engagement is directly linked to achievement. The higher the engagement, the more successful students are in their work.

The reverse, however, is also true. Howard County Public School System chose to face this challenge head-on through a partnership with Gallup, in which school leaders, educators and students identify their own strengths, then learn ways to leverage those strengths to increase engagement and success in learning and teaching.

State legislation, local culture, industry thought leaders and other factors influence the approach a school district takes in defining evaluation frameworks for teachers, leaders and staff. These variables give rise to an ever-changing set of policies, standards and evaluation rubrics that add to the complexity of educator effectiveness programs.

David Browne is superintendent of the Randolph, New Jersey public schools, a suburban K12 district of 4,800 students.

Student assessment in public education has taken on an unprecedented primacy during the 2014-15 school year, as states scramble to administer one of two new national assessments.

Warren Berger's new books explores why questioning is neither taught nor rewarded in most schools.

In his book A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger says the art of inquiry is the foundation of advancements in science, medicine, mathematics and more. Yet, in our schools—the one place that should emphasize questioning—we value rote answers to standardized tests over challenging inquiry.

An ASCD survey found only a small number of people sensed a strong Common Core opt-out movement. (Click to enlarge_

Millions of students took Common Core tests this spring—and while it was business as usual in many districts, the spreading opt-out movement left some administrators caught between concerned parents and state requirements.

The need for a secure and protected digital learning environment in districts is paramount, particularly when it comes to online testing. While conducting large-scale online testing requires advanced coordination that is both time-consuming and complex, using iPads can save time and simplify the process, so teachers, students and administrators can focus on teaching and learning, and on being better prepared for online exams.

A fourth grade teacher at Cornelius Elementary School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is evaluated by video.

As states try to bring new rigor and accountability to their teacher evaluation systems, digital video is emerging as one tool for standardizing and enhancing the sometimes perfunctory ritual of classroom observation.

Murky state policies leave administrators in the lurch as more parents opt their children out of Common Core testing, according to a March report from the Education Commission of the States.

In many states, education departments remain silent on how districts should handle parent requests for opting students out of PARCC or Smarter Balanced testing, according to the report “Assessment Opt-Out Policies: State responses to parent pushback.”

When 11 former Atlanta Public Schools educators were convicted in March of racketeering for altering student standardized test scores in a systemic cheating scandal uncovered six years ago, it left many shocked and others concerned about the tests themselves.

State investigators concluded that cheating had occurred in at least 44 schools, with nearly 180 employees accused of fixing students’ incorrect answers and inflating test scores.

When four South Carolina districts joined forces in 2013 to compete for a federal Race to the Top grant, their shared educational vision was clear: Teach students to be creative innovators and independent learners. The challenge was finding a model to encompass all the sweeping changes they wanted to implement.

Mark D. Benigni is the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools. Miguel A. Cardona is the district’s performance and evaluation specialist.

Meriden, Connecticut, is a struggling, former industrial city, once known for its silver manufacturing, lamp producers, military product development, and automotive component assembly plants.

We were both born there, to parents who had little more than each other and a dream for their children. We were poor. We were the statistic.

Yet, just as we were unleashed from the grip of poverty, so too can millions of other children break free. We chose education as a profession because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

Students at George Armstrong Elementary School in the Chicago Public Schools get lessons about money and finance. They learn about earning income and how to play a stock market game.

As today’s students find themselves deciding money matters long before adulthood, progressive districts are introducing financial literacy lessons in elementary and middle grades—with some requiring high school students to complete a personal finance program to graduate.

Predictive analytics is becoming more common in both public- and private-sector hiring.

Big data and analytics now offer districts some clues about which teacher candidates will be the most effective in the classroom.

These programs are designed to accurately gauge the impact teacher candidates will have on student test scores. Analytics companies such as TeacherMatch and Hanover Research are working with hundreds of districts nationwide to aid in the hiring process.

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