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Assessments

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A word about assessment…

In schools, the word “assessment” refers to ways teachers measure and document student learning and progress.  Many people think about traditional standardized tests or final exams when they think about assessment, but teachers use many different tools to measure and report learning.  Generally, we talk about two types of assessment – “Formative Assessment” and “Summative Assessment”. 

“Formative Assessment” refers to many different ways teachers use to measure how a student is growing during a lesson or unit.  Teachers use this information to help adjust their teaching to fill in gaps or add harder skills.  Ideally, these results are also shared with students to help them understand how to improve.  Some examples of formative assessment can include a teacher hearing or seeing student progress in class, online quizzes, some types of standardized testing, and many other both formal and informal measures.  What makes an assessment “Formative” is how it is used.  That is, it measures progress and informs teaching during the learning period. 

“Summative Assessment” refers to many different ways teachers use to measure how a student performed at the end of a lesson or unit.  This information is more often used to assign students grades and issue status reports like report cards. A summative assessment can be the traditional final exam or standardized testing.  Summative assessment can also be things like measures of projects, performances, or reports.  What makes an assessment “Summative” is how it is used.  In this case, an assessment is summative when it is used to measure student progress at the end of a learning period.

Both forms of assessment are used for many reasons.  The most important way we use assessment is to adjust teaching and student supports for each individual student to help them progress and succeed.    Assessments are also used to help document and communicate student progress to other teachers and to the students’ families.  Another important way these assessments are used is to measure and report how well teachers, administrators, schools, and the district are doing on our job of educating students.  When we combine information on assessment from many students, we can use that information to find things that are working well and to fix things that are not.

In Portland Public Schools we use many different types of both formative and summative assessment.  Each teacher and school will have both formal and informal ways they assess students.  There are a number of measures that we use district-wide, and a summary of these is listed below:

 

 

Summary of District-Wide Assessment

Name of the Assessment

Description

Grades

When it is used

Links For More Information

CAP (Concepts About Print)

An assessment that measures students’ familiarity with books and text. Things like which way to hold a book and that words in a book tell a story. Teachers work directly with a student to administer the assessment. It is used primarily as a formative assessment.

K

Fall

Teacher’s College Website

NWEA CPAA (Northwest Education Assessment Measures Children’s Progress Academic Assessment)

An online formative assessment that measures students’ skills in literacy (reading and writing).

K-2

Fall

NWEA CPAA Website

NWEA MAP (Northwest Education Assessment Measures of Academic Progress)

Online formative assessments that measures students’ skills in math and literacy (reading and writing).

Literacy 3-9

 

Math 6-11

Fall

NWEA MAP Website

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)

A written assessment that measures students’ skills in math and literacy (reading and writing). It is used for formative and summative purposes.

10 & 11

Fall

PSAT Website

ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners)

An online and spoken summative assessment for identified English Language Learners to measure students’ skills in the English language. .

K-11

Winter

ACCESS for ELLs Website

MEA ELA/Math (Maine Educational Assessment English Language Arts/Math) – also referred to as “Smarter Balanced”

An assessment that measures students’ skills in math and literacy (reading and writing). There is an online adaptive component as well as performance tasks that include classroom activities. It has both formative and summative elements.

3-8 & 11

Spring

Smarter Balanced Website

 

MEA Math/ ELA Website

 

PPS Overview of New MEA

MEA Science (Maine Educational Assessment)

A written assessment that measures student’s knowledge and skills in science. It is used primarily for summative purposes.

5, 8 & 11

Spring

MEA Science Website

On Demand Writing

A written assessment that measures students’ skills in writing. Includes assessments on narrative, informational, and opinion/argument writing. It is used primarily as a summative assessment.

K-12

Three times per year, one for each type of writing.

Teacher’s College Website

Letter Identification

An assessment that measures students’ skills in identifying upper and lower case letters. Teachers work directly with a student to administer the assessment. It is used primarily as a formative assessment but can also be reported as a summative measure.

K

Ongoing throughout the year.

Teacher’s College Website

High Frequency Word Lists

An assessment that measures students’ skill in reading by measuring how many common words a student can read. Teachers work directly with a student to administer the assessment. It is used primarily as a formative assessment, but also can be used as a summative measure.

K-2

Ongoing throughout the year.

High Frequency Word Assessments

Elementary Math Benchmark Assessments

Each Portland elementary school uses a math program – either Everyday Math or Envision. Each program has assessments to measure students’ skills and progress in math. These assessments are used for both formative and summative purposes.

K-5

Ongoing throughout the school year.

Everyday Math Website

 

Envision Math Website

Fountas and Pinnell Instructional Text Level

An assessment that measures students’ skills in reading. Teachers work directly with a student to administer the assessment. It is used primarily as a formative assessment, but also can be used as a summative measure.

1-5

Ongoing throughout the year.

Fountas and Pinnell Website

 

 

Accuplacer

A computer-based assessment that measures students’ skills in math, literacy (reading and writing), and computer skills. It is used primarily as a formative assessment, but also is reported as a summative assessment. Many colleges require students to achieve minimum Accuplacer scores prior to taking credit-bearing course work.

9-12

Ongoing throughout the school year.

Accuplacer Website

ESI (Early Screening Inventory) or DIAL 4 (Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning)

Each Portland elementary school uses one of these assessment. They are used to measure students’ development - things like language, movement, basic concepts, etc. Teachers work directly with a student to administer the assessment. It is used primarily as a formative assessment

K

Given in the spring before students begin Kindergarten as part of screening.

ESI Website

 

DIAL 4 Website