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  • Personalize learning with standard-by-standard classroom assessment system

    Illustration: Family camping

    A new way to assess learning

    Accurate standards-level feedback is a must-have for instructional relevance, but you know how zooming in too far on a picture can make it all fuzzy? Same goes for typical tests school districts use. They are designed to give feedback at the grade- or domain-level feedback, so when they try to give more specific feedback on standards, the standards-level information gets all fuzzy. Navvy found a way to clear it up! Navvy is designed to provide clear standards-level feedback with validity and reliability using a novel design and cutting-edge data science.

    Key features support learning

    Navvy informs teaching and guides learning by accurately and specifically identifying what students have learned and where they need more support.  

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  • Assessment for Learning: A Whole Child Approach to Teaching

    Illustration of open book with people and mountain scene on top of it.

    Assessments of learning are a vital part of the learning process. Without tools like tests and quizzes to measure student progress, teachers’ ability to understand where students are instructionally during the course of a school year is severely diminished.

    What if teachers had an assessment tool that allowed them to evaluate student progress while a student is learning, and to inform their teaching practices and family communication going forward? This is known as assessment for learning.

    Effective classroom assessments show how a student is doing, but an “assessment for learning” approach helps identify ways for teachers and parents to point a student in the right direction to succeed.

    According to Jeffrey Hauger, Director of Educator Engagement, incorporating assessment for learning tools provides a comprehensive and cohesive system that is well aligned to instruction and takes the whole child into consideration — not just their academic knowledge.

    “It goes beyond the progress check,” Hauger explains. “It answers the question of ‘what now?’ after educators get assessment results. It incorporates universal screeners and the social-emotional learning components that impact achievement. Once you are asking 'what now?' you are looking at components of learning that help teachers get to where they want to be instructionally."

    Looking beyond academics

    How would a system combining both assessment of learning and assessment for learning work in your school or district?

    Hauger gives the example of an elementary school classroom where a teacher needs to evaluate reading comprehension. A traditional progress check shows if students are performing at grade level, while assessment for learning tools like universal screeners dig a bit deeper to identify possible causes of a reading deficit.

    "A universal screener is a little more in depth than an interim assessment that's measuring all the standards,” Hauger explains. “If the student scored low in reading, the screener would pick that up. That would be something the teacher would want to look at and perhaps provide the student with more opportunities to work on reading comprehension."

    Hauger recommends adding assessments for learning to an overall evaluation to help teachers and school districts close equity gaps for at-risk students.

    "We know the academic components of learning, but there are also the social-emotional aspects," Hauger continues. "It’s important to use assessments that explain what issues the student is facing that could be preventing them from reaching their academic potential. Assessments for learning really help show where more targeted supports for the student can help."

    Seeing the full narrative

    With time already at a premium, assessments for learning can be difficult for overscheduled teachers to consider, but effective assessment platforms will incorporate them into comprehensive toolkits that enable a whole-child approach. These toolkits allow teachers to build an overall growth model with individualized pictures of how students are progressing and why, as well as ways to improve.

    "If you have a system that considers the different pieces, then the results give you a narrative and you don't have to fill in the puzzle to analyze it," Hauger says. "It will show you these are all related, so you can easily see the student's weaknesses and strengths."

    For example, if during an online assessment the system recognizes a third-grade student isn’t at grade level, modern platforms can adapt questions to meet the student where they are in their learning and notify the teacher about precisely where the gaps are.

    Another advantage of incorporating assessment for learning into a comprehensive system is that it results in better communication with parents and caregivers. "You can use technology to explain in layman’s terms what these reports are telling you about your student," Hauger adds.

    "More importantly, these days you can send results in multiple languages which leads to more parent engagement. Effective platforms help districts get information out to parents so they have a better understanding of how their student is doing.”

    Greater insights into “what now?”

    Hauger believes that as more districts activate the assessment for learning tools in the online platforms they use, they will be amazed by the increased insights they have at those "what now?" moments.

    "You'll see more and more of this comprehensive approach that uses different information to look at students — not only on the level of academic standards,” he explains. “They’re going to have confidence in personalized approaches that meet students where they are. Assessment for learning drives insights about the whole student, and it does it when it’s timely so teachers can use that insight to adjust and connect with their students."

    Ready to elevate your assessment strategy? Let’s connect.  

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  • Take a customizable approach to power equitable student achievement

    by Published by K-12 Dive

    Illustration of students at laptop computers

    While the 2020-21 school year was a case study in building the airplane while flying it, 2021-22 is shaping up to offer its own challenges. This is because the effects of the pandemic on student achievement have produced a classroom of learners who are less unified than ever. Some excelled in the virtual environment, while others began the year with a larger unfinished learning gap than expected.

    This disparity has led to equity differences among learners in the same cohort, along with difficulty in identifying which interventions are needed on an individual basis. While interim assessments are often used to help identify and shore up learners' needs, this year's exceptional circumstances suggest that a more personalized approach might be necessary. "Educators today need assessments to address the wide variances in student knowledge," said Jeff Hauger, director of Transcend Assessment System. A new type of interim assessment, Transcend, can better allow educators to meet students where they are through its flexible, customized interface that aids in the equitable recovery of unfinished learning.

    Benefits of interim assessments

    Most schools understand the value of interim assessments, but they are particularly important in today's environment; the way districts use them since the pandemic began has changed, Hauger said.

    Previously, most teachers considered them checkpoints to see how students grew throughout the year and as a measure to predict performance on the state summative assessment. "Currently the issue is not whether students are on level to be proficient, but about understanding instructional learning gaps to identify where students would benefit from additional support," Hauger explained. While instructors will still be measuring growth throughout the year, it's vital to identify where students are now to offer them the assistance they need to fill the void and address unfinished learning in specific areas.

    Limitations of conventional assessments

    Not all assessments are created equal, and some existing tools might not adequately address current learning gaps. Transcend, however, offers a number of unique benefits that make it particularly suited to today's instructional realities.

    First, the test is customized to state standards and personalized to the scope and sequence of each district. In the past, districts have noted that assessments aren't aligned to their local curriculum, which means the results wouldn't necessarily paint the picture they need."Transcend has developed an intelligent test blueprint that's aligned to districts' scope and sequence, each of which may be different," Hauger said. "Districts have the opportunity to work with Transcend to ensure the test items are aligned to their instruction and curriculum. "The very nature of the test also supports equitable standards. As an adaptive assessment, it automatically adjusts difficulty levels, which minimizes test anxiety and meets students where they are instructionally.

    Furthermore, the test is tightly aligned to instruction and only includes concepts that students have already learned. Teachers will no longer have to wonder if a student got an answer wrong because they hadn't yet been instructed on it or if it was because they hadn't adequately mastered the subject matter. "Students have the opportunity to show exactly what their skills are, which is important since we know decisions are made based on these assessments," Hauger said. "Transcend meets a need in the market through its design that makes it high touch at scale and ensures reliable, valid and fair results. "Transcend is also designed to be inclusive and accessible to all students, offering accommodations like color contrast, magnification and text-to-speech.

    The importance of timely reporting with actionable insights

    The value of any test lies in its ability to help students get to the next level, and that's where Transcend excels by offering concrete information on where students are in their personal learning journey. "Robust reporting is critical because it's the conduit from the assessment to the teacher to the type of instruction that needs to happen next," Hauger said.

    Dynamic reports allow a district official or educator to make inferences based on different granularities. So, a teacher could look at their entire class or individual students through an item mapping report that shows each question, the standard associated with it, the student's response and the difficulty of the item. With one click, they can view results by different metrics, such as standard or difficulty, to add more complexity to the interpretation.

    These reports allow educators to discern, for example, whether a student understands the concept at the baseline and merely stumbled as questions became increasingly difficult or if they haven't mastered it even at a rudimentary level, given that they missed all the related questions.

    Results are available within 24 hours, so educators can take the learnings and directly apply them to interventions to begin to course correct. "Insights gleaned through Transcend can help uncover student learning gaps," Hauger said.

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