Column: District 518 enters the season of statewide assessments
"(Tests) provide us much more than just a score for the state as the district utilizes these scores for a variety of things."
We are on the brink of another season of statewide assessments in District 518 and across the state.
Although statewide assessments happen once per year, teachers use many measurements to check for understanding and monitor student growth throughout the school year. These state assessments do bring about added requirements, planning, and coordination to complete them within the state mandated testing window.
Every year all public schools in the state of Minnesota administer both the ACCESS assessment for our MultiLingual Learners over the majority of February and March and the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments through March and April. District 518 completes a majority of the ACCESS assessments in the month of February and the MCA assessments throughout April.
The ACCESS assessment, like stated above, assesses our MLL in four different domains and provides feedback on whether they still need language support or if they are ready to exit out of receiving MLL support and service.
This assessment provides us with the students’ current level in four domains: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. It also gives us an opportunity to see their overall composite score in their language growth since joining our district. These results give a guide for teachers to make instructional decisions and support their students' English language proficiency through targeted instruction.
The MCA assessment is given after a student enters third grade. These assessments provide data for how well schools have aligned curriculum and instructed students in the Minnesota Academic Standards in reading, mathematics, and science. They provide a look at students' ability levels compared to current grade level standards.
The reading assessment is administered to all third through eighth grade students and the current tenth grade students. The math assessment is also administered to all current third through eighth grade students and the current eleventh grade students. The science assessment is administered to all current fifth, eighth, and in high school when the applicable coursework is completed which generally is in eleventh grade.
The question often gets brought up as to the significance of these assessments and if it just provides a score for the state level to see our performance.
In fact it does provide us much more than just a score for the state as the district utilizes these scores for a variety of things. The first area that it guides us in is the evaluation of the effectiveness of our programming. This data is used in conversations and discussion as we develop short and long term goals within each of our buildings and as a whole district. The second area is looking at our current curriculum. The data we receive from this is used to review the quality of our current curriculum and if we need to look at changes during our curriculum reviews. The last area that it brings a high level of value is in our review of Minnesota standards and providing a guide for what we are doing well and where we need to increase our current rigor.