To understand the value of interim assessment, it’s helpful to understand the different purposes it can serve. One purpose is to provide educators insight into growth patterns in student learning. Growth can be calculated from student achievement scores taken at logical intervals, such as fall to spring, or fall to fall, or whatever makes the most sense for the local district. Many educators use such a schedule when administering Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®), our interim assessment. The seasonal system permits enough instructional time between test administrations to be able to calculate growth in learning with statistical confidence.
Another purpose of interim assessment is to help teachers make decisions around differentiating instruction. An adaptive assessment that is unbanded by grade level, such as MAP, can help inform decisions that better serve all the students in the class—not only those who are achieving at grade level. As most teachers will tell you, a student’s grade level placement does not necessarily relate to their level of instructional preparedness, meaning what they know and what they are ready to learn. Within any given classroom, teachers will have students who are ready to go deep with concepts, be challenged, and apply and expand their learning. Conversely, there will be other students who need to learn foundational concepts and skills before they’re prepared for grade-level work.
These missing foundational concepts and skills may be from the previous grade, or even further back. This provides an enormous challenge for teachers whose only information on their students relates to specific grade-level content. For the students who are ready to be challenged—what are they ready to be challenged by? And for the students who are not prepared to learn grade-level standards yet—where are they? What is their level of instructional preparedness?
Trial and error is one way to answer these questions, though it is painfully inefficient, using up valuable instructional and learning time. Another is via an adaptive interim assessment like MAP. MAP quickly and precisely targets every student’s level of achievement—including students performing at, above, or below grade level.
Interim assessment does more than help teachers instructionally. The other purposes of interim assessment are predictive and evaluative. Its data can help educators predict student performance on important markers, such as state summative tests, as well as evaluate whether certain teaching strategies, programs, and curricula are effective.
Check out the table below for some of the varied uses of interim assessment data. The uses are organized by the headers instructional, predictive, and evaluative, which are key purposes of educational assessment data.
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