If you Google “K12 assessment,” more than 11 million results pop up. Between state assessments, formative assessments, summative assessments, and student portfolios, that’s an awful lot of evaluation going on.
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If you Google “K12 assessment,” more than 11 million results pop up. Between state assessments, formative assessments, summative assessments, and student portfolios, that’s an awful lot of evaluation going on. The good news is that today’s assessment tools are more prescriptive than past products, and some of them even help teachers and administrators understand what to do next.


“Try Lexia’s RAPID Assessment,” says Heidi Busk, principal at Morgen Owings Elementary in the Lake Chelan (WA) School District. Busk used RAPID for benchmarking this year and says her school will move away from NWEA MAP and DIBELS. “DIBELS gave us more detailed information than MAP, but the information was never granular and we didn’t know what to do with it,” she says. “RAPID lets us dig in much deeper. We can see where the child is struggling and get scripted lessons and other resources for teachers to use.” RAPID provides point-in-time percentile rankings and breaks children into groups that are struggling with the same standards so that teachers can hit the ground running. It also takes less time to administer, says Busk: an hour, versus up to two weeks with DIBELS. Since students do the assessment on computers, teachers get immediate feedback and real-time data results. “The lessons provided in the program are research-based, so we can trust them. It gives me the confidence to know that my teachers and paraprofessionals are using best practices, quality resources, and learning so much themselves. It’s like having professional development for teachers in reading instruction.”


“Try Pearson’s TELL (Test of English Language Learning),” says Michelle Bracken, program specialist for English Learner Programs for the San Bernardino (CA) City Unified School District. Twenty-six percent of the 53,000 students are ELL, and the district wanted a tool that provided immediate, real-time data on second language development. The district used the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) to measure student progress annually, and teachers use an ELD portfolio to monitor individual student progress. In early 2016, the district’s English Learner Programs department put together a 10-school pilot to see how TELL could help teachers and administrators pinpoint student achievement. After a successful pilot that resulted in positive feedback, 8,000 students at 70 schools used TELL this past fall. The testing went really well, and now teachers have an area to target for each student, by domain. “Before TELL we relied on CELDT and a teacher’s judgment in determining where they thought students were at. TELL provides the insight to let us know for sure if it’s a language issue or an academic skill issue.” In addition, she says students liked taking the test. It’s interactive and feels more like a game, and students told her the test makes them feel successful.


“Try i-Ready Standards Mastery,” says Peggy Crowe, curriculum coordinator for the Choctaw (MS) Tribal School District. The 2,600 students, who are members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, are bilingual but speak English and Choctaw at school. When the district first used i-Ready Standards Mastery in December of 2015, they gave students three unit tests and were disappointed with the outcome. “We wanted to use the product more successfully, since teachers and students were dissatisfied with the first results,” says Crowe. They invited teachers to choose standards to teach for nine weeks, and then they completed an assessment. This year, Crowe met with teachers in August. “I said, ‘Let’s select mastery items based on our MAP assessment and test these standards. Then you can look at scores and determine your instructional needs.’” Teachers also used the Standards Mastery Reports and Item Analysis Report to review the student and class misconceptions. Crowe took away the word assessment and encouraged the teachers to view i-Ready Standards Mastery as an instructional tool instead. She and the curriculum facilitator meet with grade-level teachers every nine weeks. They bring their i-Ready Standards Mastery Reports and look for trends. “It is so encouraging. Teachers no longer feel isolated; they see that other children are having the same difficulties. Teachers have bonded and discuss how to improve instruction.” When the district administered the most recent i-Ready Standards Mastery test, more classes were proficient and teachers were motivated. “The approach of changing it to an instructional tool supports higher student achievement,” says Crowe. “We learned that teachers must instruct with more rigor to address the standards in the depth they require.” She says the teachers come to their grade-level meetings with books and other resources to learn more effective strategies to improve teaching best practices.


Students at Westlake High School in Austin, TX, use this template to build their portfolios, house their documents, generate resumes, and assess themselves.



“Try Google Classroom,” says Lisa Johnson, educational technologist at Eanes (TX) Independent School District, chief executive officer of TechChef4u LLC, and author of Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students. Johnson, who has worked at Westlake High School for five years, was disappointed that students would graduate without any kind of portfolio or lasting example of their work. Since the district already used Google Drive, it was a natural extension to use Google Classroom as a learning management system and utilize Google Drive as a place to house student writing and assessments. With all of their writing and documents in one place, teachers can ask a class of students to pull up last year’s assignments and re-edit them with new knowledge. Or they can use earlier writing samples to track student growth. “The beauty of using Google Classroom and Google Drive is that there was no learning curve for teachers or students. It’s simple and effective,” says Johnson. If a student leaves the district, he can share his work with a personal gmail account. But Johnson wanted students to have more than just a writing portfolio, so she enlisted a fellow ed tech in her district to work with Doctopus, a Google Sheets Add-On, to create a standardized portfolio that students, teachers, and district officials had access to. This repository, which is really a glorified Google folder and a Google Doc that serves as a chapter of contents, allows students to list their goals, activities, awards, honors, and clubs. “With this information readily in hand, the portfolio also helps students write their resumes or complete their college applications.” Many students also opt to design a showcase portfolio using bulb, a tool that displays artifacts beautifully, to keep everything from prezi animations to audio recordings to blogs. The next level, which Johnson has started working on, is helping teachers use digital portfolios to foster self-analysis and peer reviews. “The goal is to have someone ask questions or help you review your portfolio and discuss what you’ve learned,” she says. “For instance, what do you notice about yourself when you work in a group? What roles do you excel at? Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, we are ready to build on it.”


At last year’s Boston T&L Live, a group of educators held a lively Formative Assessment Shoot Out, packed with educators learning about popular tools available for classroom use. The contenders were the following:

Nearpod ( Teachers can create lessons, synchronize them across all student devices, and get real-time feedback and post-session reports on student comprehension.

Pear Deck ( A Google app for 1:1/BYOD classrooms that engages every student in every class every day. Teachers create presentations, students join with any device and engage with the lesson in multiple ways: questions, videos, Web pages, etc.

Formative ( A platform for real-time formative assessments that lets students type, draw, or upload images.

Socrative ( Teachers quickly assess students with prepared activities or on-the-fly questions to get immediate insight into student understanding and then use results to determine the best instructional approach.

Attendees watched demos and voted for their favorite one. In the end, it was too close to call, says Andy Wallace, technology director of South Portland (ME) Schools and the Shoot Out moderator. Each product delivers a valuable, nuanced way to let teachers get a better understanding of … well, their students’ understanding. “The real winners are the classrooms in which teachers use any of these tools for increased engagement and easy formative assessment,” says Wallace.



Measured Progress introduces eMPower Assessments promo image

Measured Progress introduces eMPower Assessments

DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—March 21, 2017—Measured Progress, Inc. launches eMPower Assessments™ to K–12 districts nationwide. This new suite of assessments measures student growth for grades 3 through 8 and connects to the SAT® Suite of Assessments. eMPower Assessments are interim assessments that provide an accurate indicator of student progress toward meeting state standards. The program meets districts’ needs to reduce redundant, disconnected testing and to measure growth consistently through all grades, within and across years. 

Measured Progress Awarded Contract for ‘Next-Generation’ MCAS promo image

Measured Progress Awarded Contract for ‘Next-Generation’ MCAS

DOVER, N.H.—Aug. 16, 2016— The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) has awarded Measured Progress a five-year contract for the highly anticipated Next-Generation Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, known as the Next-Generation MCAS.The Commonwealth decided last winter to create a new assessment program to build on the strengths of both of its previous statewide assessments — the Commonwealth’s MCAS, and one provided by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC®)[1]. For the past two years, districts chose between MCAS and the PARCC assessment for the bulk of their year-end testing. Their findings and preference contributed to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's decision that all districts use the Next-Generation MCAS beginning in spring 2017. 

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Time to try tablets

Although those of us with declining eyesight might be holding out for larger-than-life-sized monitors, our students have embraced smaller-is-better as they pop their devices into their back pockets and backpacks.

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BYOD: A Work in Progress

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Measured Progress Awarded Contract for Oklahoma Assessments promo image

Measured Progress Awarded Contract for Oklahoma Assessments

DOVER, N.H.—October 9, 2017—The Oklahoma State Department of Education (SDE) has awarded Measured Progress a potential six-year contract for its Oklahoma School Testing Program (OSTP). The new contract provides yearly assessments based on Oklahoma Academic Standards for grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and mathematics, and for science in grades 5 and 8. This contract continues the strong working relationship between the Oklahoma SDE and Measured Progress, which began in 2013 with the award for the English language arts and mathematics portions of the former Oklahoma College and Career Readiness Assessment program (replaced by OSTP). In 2014 and 2015, the state again chose Measured Progress to support two more programs in the OSTP. Measured Progress worked on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum tests in science, geography, and social studies as well as the high-school End-of-Instruction (EOI) tests.

Measured Progress Partners With Illuminate Education to Add High-Quality Assessment Content to Award-Winning Technology promo image

Measured Progress Partners With Illuminate Education to Add High-Quality Assessment Content to Award-Winning Technology

DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—May 22, 2017—Measured Progress, Inc. is pleased to announce a partnership with Illuminate Education to add high-quality assessment content from Measured Progress to the Illuminate Education Intelligence platform. As a result of this partnership, Measured Progress will make formative assessment items and pre-built quizzes in reading, mathematics, and science from the Measured Progress Formative Content Bank and STEM Gauge® available for use by mutual customers of Measured Progress and Illuminate Education. 

Measured Progress Expands Leadership Team promo image

Measured Progress Expands Leadership Team

DOVER, N.H.—May 8, 2017—Measured Progress is pleased to welcome Stephen Murphy as Vice President, Measurement Services, and to announce the promotion of Justine Hargreaves to Vice President, Marketing. They join the executive leadership team reporting to Martin Borg, President and CEO, working cross-functionally to help define long-term strategy and to sustain the New Hampshire nonprofit’s delivery on its mission to improve teaching and learning.