Byron's Babbles

ESSA Opportunity #1: Assessments

IMG_0134I am beginning a series of ten posts detailing opportunities I see us having with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This post deals with new opportunities afforded by ESSA for Assessments. ESSA continues the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) schedule of federally required statewide assessments. ESSA still requires annual statewide assessments in reading and math in 3rd–8thgrade and once in high school; science assessments once each in elementary, middle, and high school. Those assessments must be aligned with state standards and provide information on whether a student is performing at grade level. ESSA allows computer-adaptive tests as well. These computer-adaptive models could be used to measure a student’s academic proficiency above or below grade level to determine a student’s actual performance level.

It is also important to keep in mind that no more than 1 percent of all students in the state can take an alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. There is still the requirement of 95% participation in state testing. States or localities may create their own laws on assessment participation, and districts are required to notify parents about those, but the 95% participation requirement must be met.

There are some options already being used in some states for the high school level. An option for states or districts to use a nationally-recognized assessment (e.g. SAT or ACT) at the high school level in place of the state test. These assessments may measure individual student growth. Any assessment that is used must be aligned to the state standards, provide results that can be used for accountability, and meet all the technical requirements that apply to statewide tests. They also have to be peer reviewed. Under ESSA, any district-selected assessments must be approved by the state.

In addition, summative assessments can be administered through multiple statewide interim assessments that , when combined, produce an annual summative score are allowed under ESSA. Also allowable under ESSA are assessments that are partially delivered through portfolios, projects, or extended performance tasks.

Finally, ESSA encourages and gives states the opportunity to audit their assessments to look at over-testing. As you can see, ESSA gives new flexibility in assessment design. The new law allows for use of nationally recognized high school assessments and innovative assessment flexibility. Now it is up to the states to collaborate and come up with solutions that are best for the students.



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