Shifting Assessments and the Need for Educator Communication

Shifting Assessments and the Need for Educator CommunicationOur own Raymond Yeagley penned an article in June’s School Administrator Magazine titled Shifting Assessments, in which he discusses the rightly placed expectation that test scores will be lower under the new academic standards. He offers useful insight on how districts should position themselves to “mitigate harm.” Adjustment to the new test will take some time but the process offers the opportunity for districts to focus more on local assessment strategies versus being tied so heavily to state assessment outcomes. Ideally, assessment will become more of a tool to drive learning directly.

We’ve posted other blogs that touched on this topic as well that might be worth revisiting this time of year. Rebecca Moore wrote a post that highlighted John Cronin and Nate Jensen’s article that appeared in Phi Delta Kappan – The Phantom Collapse of Student Achievement in New York (PDF). This article showcased the decline in New York State’s proficiency rates following the adoption of a new assessment designed to measure performance on Common Core standards. Namely proficiency rates dropped from 55 percent to 31 percent in reading and from 65 percent to 31 percent in math. Needless to say, these results sparked a flurry of conversation taking into question the new tests and the Common Core State Standards themselves.

In addition to Rebecca’s post, Jean Fleming authored an article for AASA titled Communicating Student Achievement in a Time of Change: Assessment can Help in which she addressed the how new student proficiency scores are not necessarily indicative of declining student achievement and how longitudinal data from some interim assessments like MAP can help educators make sense of these phantom assessment results, and support the communication challenge that awaits teachers and administrators.

Our researchers, after diving into MAP assessment data, were able to use student results to estimate what a school system’s proficiency rates would have been if the state had not changed the proficiency cut scores. They found that student proficiency rates actually increased – in some cases significantly. The perception that student achievement actually declined with the new, higher standards was not in fact reality.

As Raymond discusses in his article:

The bottom line in this milieu of changes is that the rate and depth of student learning may actually improve while student test performance, as evidenced by proficiency rates, decreases. Educators need to be prepared to help their communities understand this reality and mitigate the harm that may come from misinterpreting results for the new assessments.

Be sure to read the article! Also, please, share your thoughts on our Facebook page or send us a message via Twitter (@NWEA). We’d love to hear from you!