Dr. David Conley explores the Common Core State Standards and the attendant assessments by state consortia and suggests strategies that will result in the most students being ready for postsecondary educational success. This article appeared in State Educational Standard, a publication of the National Association of State Boards of Education.
See the Innovation Lab Network for examples of states that are going beyond the consortia assessments with additional assessments (http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Innovation_Lab_Network.html).
Review your school ’s strategy for preparing for your consortium’s assessment. Is the emphasis on short-term test prep? What role will formative and interim assessment play in guiding instruction and diagnosing student needs?
The performance tasks of the both consortia include on-demand writing and revision within fixed periods of time. Build on-demand writing activities into in-class assignments to help reduce anxiety or time management issues when students encounter the formal writing tasks on the assessments.
Help teachers become more assessment literate, particularly in their ability to use and interpret formative assessment information that provides them with insight into student understanding at higher levels of aggregation than individual standards. Are students comprehending the standards at a conceptual level as well as at a content level?
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has shared samples of PARCC items to provide information about the assessment system and support educators as they transition to the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC tests.
A guide from the K–12 Center at ETS that describes and illustrates the assessment designs and related activities launched by the assessment consortia.
Familiarize yourself with the performance-level descriptors your consortium uses. Once everyone in the school has a shared understanding of the performance levels, begin to determine the likely distribution of students in the school among the performance levels.
If the data are available, compare how many students in your school do well on measures that are likely to align with the consortia assessments, such as ACT/SAT and state tests. Assume that student scores on assessment consortia will be lower than these. This can serve as a rough predictor of how students in the school will perform initially at the college and career readiness level on the consortia assessments.
Smarter Balanced is a state-led consortium developing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics that are designed to help prepare all students to graduate high school college- and career-ready.
PARCC is a 19-state consortium working together to develop next-generation K–12 assessments in English and math.
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