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Articles: Assessment

Only 69 percent of high school seniors who took the ACT in 2013 enrolled in a postsecondary institution that fall.

Record numbers of students are taking the ACT exam and expressing an interest in higher education—but scores on both the ACT and SAT are lagging, according to test administrators.

More than 1.84 million 2014 graduates—a record 57 percent of the national graduating class—took the ACT. This is a 3 percent increase from 2013, and an 18 percent increase compared to 2010, according to the ACT’s annual “Condition of College & Career Readiness” report, released in August.

Richard Elmore is the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

In an age of assessments, every school today knows how it is performing and understands the stakes of failing to meet expectations. Yet vast numbers of schools across the nation have been unable to improve, despite the threats of sanctions or outright closure.

To measure academic excellence, Tacoma Public Schools tracks test scores, graduation rates, college acceptance and participation in extracurricular activities.

Instead of quizzes and tests that interrupt classroom activity, many districts and testing companies are working on ways to integrate formative assessments into daily instruction and use technology to gather real-time feedback on student progress.

Donald Aguillard is the superintendent of St. Mary Parish Public Schools in Louisiana.

With several schools in Academic Assistance and test scores lagging behind the state average, St. Mary Parish Public Schools (Louisiana) knew powerful change was needed.

William Keswick is K12 science curriculum coordinator, K12 STEM coordinator and county athletic director for Talbot County Public Schools in Maryland.

In schools across the country, students are swapping their pencils and bubble sheets for computing devices and online tests.

Proponents say online assessment is the wave of the future. Opponents say teachers and students aren’t ready. Students from poverty may be at a disadvantage when taking online tests, they argue. I would counter that school should be the place that levels the playing field for those who don’t have access to technology at home.

John Kuhn, superintendent of Perrin-Whitt CISD in Texas, is the author of "Fear and Learning in America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education."

Perrin-Whitt CISD Superintedent John Kuhn’s new book, "Fear and Learning in America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education," makes a pitch for sensible education reform.

Common Core test tools enhance accessibility for students with disabilities while keeping them in the classroom with their peers. (Photo: Smarter Balanced)

Common Core assessments are making testing easier for students with special needs, experts say. The computer-based exams include tools such as on-screen calculators and read-aloud instructions to enhance accessibility for students with disabilities while keeping them in the classroom with their peers.

The upcoming PARCC and Smarter Balanced online assessments require students to use secure, locked-down machines. When district leaders invest in this equipment, they should also consider selecting devices that will support increased student achievement and college and career success, such as Google Chromebooks. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2014, featured a Google for Education team member, who discussed the unique benefits of Chromebooks and how these machines can be used for online assessments.

Whether assessments administered in a district are producing useful data can be determined through establishing a comprehensive assessment plan. Assessments should support a district’s strategic plan and determine student progress according to Common Core State Standards. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 20, 2014, featured experts in curriculum development and school improvement, who presented the best ways to develop strategic assessment plans, how to determine assessment effectiveness, and how to inform stakeholders of student progress.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were finalized in April 2013 after a lengthy research and development process by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Achieve and a group of 26 states. Not a set of curricula, the NGSS serves to provide teachers with guidelines for teaching practical, more in-depth science.

Gibbsboro eighth graders share a research project on “Giving Back Day,” which focuses on the “Super 7” elements of service.

In a New Jersey seventh-grade history class, students put Christopher Columbus “on trial” to determine whether the explorer was a good or bad leader.

University of San Francisco associate professor Richard Greggory Johnson III, who focuses on social equity and human rights, says the SAT is unnecessary.

High schools often report their students’ SAT score averages as a badge of honor—and with good reason; high scores are perceived as the mark of a good school.

The Whole Schools Initiative's arts program is helping drive up test scores in Mississippi schools.

The arts are driving up test scores and closing achievement gaps in more than 30 Mississippi schools that are blending music, theater, visual art and dance into core subjects.

The first day of practice testing at Greer Elementary School in the San Juan USD in California in March.

Field testing for the Common Core assessments wrapped up in June, with districts in 36 states reporting mostly successful first runs despite some challenges around technology, test questions and scheduling.

Joseph Moylan, principal of Oconomowoc High School in Wisconsin, meets with students interested in AP and IB programs at the school. He calls IB’s more narrow-but-deeper approach the gold standard for college prep.

Fueled by a growing consensus that students need post-secondary degrees to compete in the world economy, participation in the 58-year-old Advanced Placement program, once reserved for a small band of elite achievers, has doubled in size over the past decade. The much smaller International Baccalaureate program has also grown steadily.

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