Here comes fresh guidance in choosing the right testing platforms

EdReports' reviews of commercially available interim assessments will debut in early 2023.

As more educators rely on interim assessments to get a fuller idea of student progress, one organization is preparing to give districts comprehensive guidance in choosing the right products.

Reviews of commercially available interim assessment products are forthcoming in early 2023 from EdReports, the nonprofit that provides free reviews of instructional materials, and the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. The review process will be based on each testing product’s purpose, as indicated by the publishers.

Overall, assessments are a billion-dollar industry and interim exams have become a key tool for measuring unfinished learning as districts work to recover from the pandemic, says Courtney Allison, EdReports’ chief academic officer. “We are interested in the assessments that allow educators to make instructional choices that are aligned to what they’re already teaching,” Allison says.”That’s why this information can be so powerful.”

EdReports’ reviews will examine:

  1. Alignment of the assessment to the expectations of college and career-ready standards and adherence to expectations for fairness and accessibility.
  2. Evidence of technical quality based on the types of information the exams provide and how the data will be used.
  3. Evidence supporting the clarity and utility of score reports and ease of interpretation.

Unlike EdReports’ curriculum reviews that stop if it doesn’t meet the first benchmark–alignment–our reviews of interim assessments will provide information about all areas, Allison says. Based on publisher claims, the reviews will gauge how predictive interim assessments are of student performance and whether score reports give educators actionable information to individualize instructional decisions. Accessibility for students with disabilities, English learners and other special populations will be another key measurement, Allison says.

Building educators’ assessment literacy is also a goal of the project. Often, the assessment expertise is limited to a small group of educators within each district, Allison says. “Assessment literacy is something that educators build on the job,” Allison says. “We will have a range of supports to help people at the district and school levels help each other become smarter and more knowledgable about assessments.”

Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready platform and Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Blocks are the first two products confirmed to be included in the first batch of reviews, which should be available early next year.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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