Streamlining Assessments: How Garland, Texas Does More with Less

Streamlining Assessments: How Garland, Texas Does More with LessEducators today are carefully considering the number, purpose and alignment of assessments to measure student learning and achievement at the school, district and state levels. Administrators are working to ensure the assessments being used in classrooms offer maximum utility as teachers are flexing their instructional muscles to help students meet higher goals.

Garland Independent School District in Texas, among the 100 largest districts in America with 71 campuses and 58,000 students, recently underwent the process of streamlining its testing roster. This work is an outcome of the district’s five-year strategic plan, which includes efforts to increase the quality of data and reduce the number of tests administered.

Garland recognized that not all assessments are created equal. Tests differ widely in design, purpose, and validity: some deliver information that administrators and teachers need to make informed decisions—and some don’t. Garland Superintendent, Dr. Bob Morrison, used the commitment to streamline the district’s portfolio as an opportunity to focus on what works to support learning. The district sought out tools that provide immediate information that could be put to work right away to support effective teacher practice and administrative decision making. Thus, Garland’s selection of the MAP allowed it to replace ISIP, STAR Math, ITBS and district benchmark assessments, while still delivering relevant information to all district stakeholders.

Assessments need to be efficient, meaning not only cost effective, but manageable. MAP provides real-time results, closing the cycle between assessment and instruction. Further, computer adaptive interim assessments like MAP dynamically adjust to each student’s level of learning, regardless of grade level, and provide actionable data for teachers to make instructional modifications as students are ready to learn.

Resources included with MAP help educators translate assessment information into actionable plans for instruction at the student and classroom level to help close gaps in student learning. When an educator understands what a student knows and doesn’t know, valuable instructional time that could be wasted on finding solutions to unknown problems is saved. This saved time can then be spent on helping students in specific areas where they are struggling and offering new concepts as students reach mastery in a particular area.

Garland ISD’s choice to use MAP is just one example of how one district is streamlining testing for the benefit of teachers and students. Read more about what we know about K-12 assessment in one of our top posts of 2014, Assessment Myths, Meet Assessment Literacy.