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April 1, 2014
ASCD SmartBrief Special Report
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Special Report: Thoughtful student assessment
Data-driven teaching and learning is a new normal in many of the nation's schools. The landscape of lesson planning is increasingly decorated with student data points, used by educators to tailor instruction to students' individual needs.

In this ASCD SmartBrief Special Report, we look at trends in assessment, measuring student progress and technology in testing. We also highlight in our District Spotlight section one district's journey to a data-driven culture.

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District Spotlight 
  • Q&A: How one N.Y. district adopted a data-driven culture
    Kimberly Moritz, superintendent of schools for Randolph Central School District in New York, highlights in this Q&A strategies the district used to adopt a data-driven culture. She says making data-inquiry meetings a priority and giving teachers a voice in their own professional development were two important steps the district took to set the stage for success. Moritz also shares insights about tools and resources to ensure the right level of student assessment. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/31) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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Trends in Assessment 
  • The right questions, the right way
    "The fundamental flaw in the traditional questioning model is that it makes participation voluntary," writes Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the Institute of Education Dylan Wiliam. In his March Educational Leadership article, Wiliam shares strategies that will help teachers formatively assess where all students are in their learning, which enables teachers to provide better feedback and plan their next instructional steps more effectively. Educational Leadership (3/2014) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Computerized scoring could alter future of writing exams
    Florida is preparing to administer exams that include a student essay to be graded by humans and computers -- leading some experts to question whether computerized scoring eventually could eliminate the need for writing exams. University of Akron researcher Mark Shermis notes that, in the future, all of a student's writing from throughout the year could be submitted for computerized scoring to provide an assessment of the student's abilities. StateImpact/Florida (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Should there be a time limit on prep for standardized tests?
    The amount of time spent preparing for standardized tests under the Common Core State Standards should be capped, according to a panel assembled by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The panel also recommended eliminating standardized "bubble tests" for students up to second grade, saying the early introduction of such exams could bring anxiety. Lawmakers in the state have said they would take the panel's recommendations into consideration. Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)/The Associated Press (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Top 13 Things to Look for in a Common Core Program
(1) Does it have all brand-new, not-repurposed content true to the details and intent of the Common Core? (2) Does it use a research-based, gradual-release instructional model that supports mastery of complex standards? (3) Does it embed professional development at the point of instruction?
See all 13 things to consider
Measuring Student Progress 
  • The bridge between today's lesson and tomorrow's
    "I see formative assessment as an ongoing exchange between a teacher and his or her students designed to help students grow as vigorously as possible and to help teachers contribute to that growth as fully as possible," writes ASCD author Carol Ann Tomlinson. In her March Educational Leadership article, Tomlinson offers 10 principles to help teachers apply sound formative assessment practices. Educational Leadership (3/2014) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • What educators, policymakers should ask about assessments
    Educators and policymakers should ask themselves what assessments measure, how they help teachers, how they serve students and parents and how much the assessments cost, according to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education. "College- and career-ready standards without high-quality assessments aligned to them to advance learning is like peanut butter without jelly," said Bob Wise, AEE president and former governor of West Virginia. eSchool News (free registration) (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Data-based interventions help struggling students improve
    Educators at an elementary school in Indiana are crediting a data-driven program called Response to Intervention for helping students make yearly progress. Under the program, teachers assess students throughout the school year and divide them into ability groups to work on specific skills or assign them to more intensive interventions. "We try not to pull them out of class as much as provide different learning opportunities," teacher Robyn Dill said. Kokomo Tribune (Ind.) (tiered subscription model) (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
How To Make Smarter Ed Tech Purchases
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Technology and Testing 
  • Are our kids ready for computerized tests?
    "As the Common Core assessments approach, let's challenge ourselves to provide opportunities for students to independently apply the knowledge they'll need to meet the new standards," writes education consultant Kristine Gullen. In her March Educational Leadership article, Gullen shares her findings after debriefing 500 students who had just taken online assessments. She also recommends five practices teachers should employ to help students strengthen computer skills and the ability to work independently on long problems. Educational Leadership (3/2014) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • UDL principles help make online testing accessible to all
    Some school districts that have rolled out online assessments have found that built-in assistive technology, such as magnified text and text-to-speech options, can benefit all learners. "There are all types of interventions that came out to address the needs of students with disabilities, but anyone can benefit from them and should have the opportunity to use those accommodations if they want them," said Kimberly Hymes, senior director of policy and advocacy for the Council for Exceptional Children. Education Week (tiered subscription model) (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Can a computer grade an essay?
    The implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the push for assessments that measure deeper learning -- rather than relying on multiple-choice questions -- have stirred debate over the use of artificial intelligence, also called AI or machine-reading, to grade students' essays. Some teachers using such online essay readers say the technology cuts down grading time significantly and helps individualize lessons, while others say they are concerned the technology is flawed. Education Week (tiered subscription model) (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
ASCD Resources 
  

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