Meaningful Measures of Student learning - Page 4

How do assessments help parents and students? Well-defined expectations: Students learn most effectively when they are provided with clear expectations about the knowledge and skills they should develop during the school year.13 High-quality assessments reinforce academic standards in providing students and parents with clear expectations of what students should achieve in any given school year, guiding their progression through course content and framing their learning in the larger context of the year. To ensure that expectations are clearly communicated, it is important to provide parents and students comprehensive information about assessments and sample test items. In Tennessee, data from standardized assessments factor into students’ final course grades, impacting their graduation from high school. For this reason, students’ performance on standardized assessments prior to 12th grade keep students and parents informed about their progress on the standards and their likelihood of successful transition from high school to college or career.14 Indicators of college and career readiness: Assessments also provide parents and students with feedback on a student’s educational progress at the end of the school year. When data from high-quality assessments indicate that students are struggling in certain subject areas or with specific standards, parents can support early intervention practices to help students catch up to their peers. A high-quality assessment allows parents to understand their students’ progress on standards in comparison to other students in Tennessee and around the country. When assessments are high quality and linked to standards of college and career readiness, data from these assessments can help parents and students understand how they are progressing toward success in college and career. How do assessments help teachers? Clear expectations: High-quality assessments and standards provide teachers with a roadmap, making the expectations set forth in standards concrete. In this way, high-quality assessments have the potential to guide teachers’ instructional decisions, providing them with important indicators about how to balance the time they spend on each of the standards and a better understanding of what their students should be able to do after being taught the standards. In a well-designed assessment system, assessments are so well aligned to the standards that teaching to the test and teaching to the standards become synonymous. While narrowly focused assessments can cause a narrowing of instruction, well-aligned assessments should lead to well-balanced instruction that reflects the full rigor and depth of academic standards. Instructional improvement: High-quality assessments provide teachers with information that helps them identify instructional strengths and opportunities for improvement. In Tennessee, data from standardized assessments are used in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS), an important component of teacher evaluations. Combined with other measures of teaching effectiveness such as classroom observations, student achievement data, or student perception surveys, data from assessments can provide teachers with valuable instructional feedback. The results of standardized assessments should provide teachers with insight into their instructional strengths in terms of subject areas as well as with certain groups of students. This information can help teachers make data-driven decisions about what types of professional learning opportunities to pursue or where to seek instructional support. Support for student needs: High-quality assessments provide teachers with information they can use at the beginning of the school year to better understand their students’ needs. Students’ performance on the previous year’s standardized assessment can support teachers’ decisions about how to group students and differentiate their instruction. While teachers rely on data from formative assessments and classroom-based assessments to inform their instruction throughout the school year, data from standardized assessments provide teachers with a foundational understanding of student needs at the beginning of the school year. How do assessments help school and district leaders? 4 Teacher support practices: In Tennessee, data from standardized assessments are used to calculate TVAAS measures. Through TVAAS data, high-quality assessments provide information to school and district leaders that helps them understand what type of support teachers need and which teachers most need support. This information can help inform mentoring and coaching partnerships, pairing teachers in need of support with highly effective teachers or instructional coaches. Data from high-quality assessments can also help guide decisions at the school