How to Use Benchmark Assessments
Many districts in our CABOCES region have decided to use our ELA and Math Benchmark assessments to help prepare students for the NYSED 3-8 assessments. Mark Beckwith at CABOCES has those benchmark assessments and other documents on our 3 Tools to Improve Results site: http://bit.ly/3TOOLS.
This all came about from a discussion at Friendship with their administrative team trying to help teachers understand what they need to cover to prepare students for the 3-8 ELA and Math assessments. We used the released questions on the NYSED site and focused on the standards that have been asked the most since the Common Core tests started. CABOCES staff worked on creating parallel questions to these most asked released questions to make the benchmarks and tried to keep the overall look and feel as similar to the actual assessment as they could. The 3 Tools site has a tutorial on using the site, it gives educators the assessments along with Educator Guides for scoring the assessments and Data Analysis documents for analyzing the student results.
Next comes the quandary.....after teachers and administrators sit down to analyze these results, what do they do next? It’s great to realize where you have weakness (and strengths, it’s always good to make sure you keep doing well at what you do well), but what do you do to help students who struggle? What change in instruction happens? At Friendship teachers are going back to use the tests with each individual student and after two administrations to go back and show how much improvement (hopefully) that a kid has shown from one benchmark to the next last. Time is given in AIS/RtI and also teachers can go over it in class. There’s always room to improve and we hope they find value in getting to individual students to go over their own personal results and to come up with a plan to help them fix any gaps. We’re still looking for ideas to help close those gaps that they find from these benchmarks before the actualy New York State test.
What is the answer to that? Is it more of the same type of instruction? Is it more focused practice and if so how and when? Is it using a program like i-Ready or Castle Learning for more practice? I don’t know but would love to hear how other districts are going through this process to help close the gaps, whether you use these benchmark assessments or not. Please let me know at: Mark_Carls@caboces.org.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
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