In 2015, the next-generation assessments become real for teachers and administrators across the country. After hearing more and more concerns from educators about these new tests, we decided to hold an Assessment Summit at Edmentum to make sure that we are doing everything we can to understand the viewpoints of educators and to help prepare schools for these more challenging and rigorous tests.
The Assessment Summit was held on February 3 and 4and focused on the formative, classroom-level realities of next-generation assessments rather than high-stakes accountability. These realities include taking assessments online, answering constructed response questions, and learning new test-taking strategies for technology-enhanced items, as opposed to multiple choice questions. In order to get a complete picture of current assessment issues, we wanted to bring together a cross functional team from within our organization. By the time of the summit, we had confirmed attendees from our Content Development, Platform Development, Product Management, Marketing, and Education Research departments.
We kicked off with a discussion of Edmentum’s vision for assessment solutions led by Mark Caulfield, the group product manager for assessments. (You can read more about the vision for assessment solutions in Mark’s January blog posting.) The remainder of Day 1 was focused on understanding educator feedback regarding our current assessment products, what educators want to see in future products, and questions about a new assessment technical manual that’s in progress. It also featured an in-depth discussion on the research that we want to do for our Benchmark and Test Packs products, like an equating study, field testing items, and continuing to increase the data and research behind our products.
Day 2 of the Assessment Summit included an update on the new version of our Accucess diagnostic assessment solution that will be released this spring and how user testing of this product is going. We also discussed what platform features are needed to support educators and learners as they prepare to take the next-generation assessments. From the discussions, we came up with several key findings that we will be diving into in the near future:
- Students are finding the next-generation assessments far more difficult than previous state tests.
- Students are taking far longer to complete these new tests.
- Reading passages are longer and more complex.
- Teachers are finding it challenging to grade and provide feedback on constructed response items.
- Administrators want data and research that proves a product will help students pass their state tests.
- Teachers love the new technology-enhanced items and want more of them so that students can become accustomed to taking the next-generation assessments.
- Helping students understand the new test formats and how to take them online, is as important in preparing students for the next-generation assessments as drilling them on the content and skills that will be assessed.
- No one really knows how students will do on the first administrations of these tests this spring, but everyone assumes that performance results will be lower than on previous state tests.
We are excited to build off of the discussions at this Assessment Summit as the Edmentum development team prepares to kick off its next round of design and construction on assessment solutions. With the insights we uncovered last week, we will be able to continue to improve the content and user experience of our assessment solutions for the 2015–2016 school year. Want to learn more about our current assessment offerings? Check out this Edmentum Assessments Overview!