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[Feature Focus] Exact Path’s Approach to Assessment

Thursday, July 20, 2017 -- Lilly Flores

Exact Path, our newest program to hit the market, is already changing the game in personalized learning. By combining adaptive diagnostics with tailored learning paths, Exact Path is empowering educators with meaningful data and putting students in the driver’s seat of their own learning journey. As we continue to release exciting new features and enhancements this summer, it is important that we also take the opportunity to step back and dig into the nuts and bolts of this groundbreaking solution. Let’s begin by unpacking our innovative approach to individualized learning.

We know that for some, the topic of assessment can elicit more than a few groans. After all, among benchmarks, quizzes, unit tests, and end-of-year exams, it can feel as though assessment fatigue has already begun to set in. However, at Edmentum, we believe in the power of quality assessments when they are used meaningfully to yield relevant, intuitive, and actionable data that drive effective learning. So, what makes for a high-quality assessment? It needs to be research-based, valid, and proven by teachers around the nation to help support teaching best practices. Let’s take a closer look at how we’ve designed Exact Path’s assessments to meet these requirements.

See what’s new in Exact Path! Join us for a live webinar for a firsthand look at updated features and program enhancements!

How does Edmentum assess meaningfully?

Exact Path takes a balanced approach to assessment in order to paint a clearer picture of how each student learns. This is done by incorporating two different types of assessments that work together to support learning and demonstrate that learning has taken place.

Adaptive Diagnostic - Interim Assessments

Exact Path’s diagnostic assessments are the cornerstone of this rich program. They are available for students in grades K–8 in the subject areas of math, reading, and language arts. Assessments are designed to be administered when students begin their work in the program and as interim assessments two to four times throughout the school year. Our diagnostic assessments help determine students’ strengths and abilities within a vertical K–12 learning progression, setting learners on individual paths to success, while also providing an accurate measure of growth.

These adaptive tests offer a unique and streamlined testing experience for every student, and they assess students not only within the domain levels of each subject area but also incorporate the skills needed to build upon their learning. Time spent testing is maximized by pulling in only relevant questions from a pool of approximately 10,000 items, appropriate for precisely diagnosing each learner’s instructional level. Through the use of our defined algorithm, students answer questions and are adapted based on calculations regarding grade-level difficulty and the kinds of items a student answers successfully, offering a one-of-a-kind, unique, and streamlined testing experience for each and every student. Each testing administration takes into account students’ progress and performance data already recorded in the system to make assessing your learners even more effective and efficient, yielding a new and updated learning path with each testing administration.

Exact Path Diagnostic Assessment Screen Shot

Progress-Monitoring Checks - Formative Assessments 

Part of what makes Exact Path a one-of-a-kind experience for students is the true balance it offers between diagnosing learning and supporting it. Rather than simply providing a score and placement into a learning path at several discrete points during the school year, as most interims and diagnostics do, Exact Path is designed to measure and support ongoing learning growth. After a diagnostic is administered, students can immediately get started working in their individualized paths and continue to receive feedback on their learning. Progress checks are incorporated throughout the program, allowing for students to be continuously assessed on their skills progression in between each diagnostic window. These short quizzes are up to 20 questions in length and are dynamically developed to assess up to four skills at a time, with five questions per skill. Results help adapt students’ learning paths on the fly to focus additional time on areas of opportunity or propel learning forward as needed.

Exact Path Formative Assessment Activities Screen Shot

How does this approach to assessment set Exact Path apart?

When determining what kind of tests to use with your students, it’s important to make sure that a few criteria are being met:

  • Is the test research-based, valid, and reliable?
  • Does the data the test provides answer the questions you have about how your students are learning?
  • What will you do with the information provided after you have administered the test?

These are just a few of the questions we hear from our educators that you may also be asking yourself before you assign yet another test. If you are asking those same questions, then you are definitely on the right track!

And, we made sure to address them when we developed Exact Path. When you dig into this program’s assessment approach, it’s just as important to understand the pedagogy and data that are behind it as it is to know what’s next when the assessment is completed. In the case of Exact Path’s adaptive diagnostic assessments, both the “before” and “after” are specifically addressed.

Exact Path’s assessments meet the needs of a research-based approach and incorporate the best practices in item development with documented item quality and in continued monitoring of performance. All assessments are subject to extensive psychometric analysis to determine strong reliability and validity metrics. In addition, we use our very own vertical learning progression, specifically tested and validated through a robust research study organized by our in-house team of psychometricians and curriculum experts. This research has extensively tested our learning progression to ensure that our sequence of skills accurately aligns with how students learn. This scale was then used and tested nationwide with students and teachers across the country in order to gather norms determining just what a student needs to know and when they need to know it. You can learn more about the research we completed by taking  a look at our Math and Language Arts white papers!

Now, to get to “what’s next?” When students complete their assessments within Exact Path, does the program end? The short answer: nope—we’re just getting started. Each assessment administration is immediately accompanied with intuitive, actionable data dashboards and an adaptive learning path of robust instructional content tailored specifically to each learners’ needs. Whether working below, on, or above grade level (or some combination of all of the above), Exact Path meets your entire classroom’s needs with an appropriate sequence of instruction and continued progress monitoring to keep each learner engaged and on track.

Exact Path Assessment Data Visualization

How can Exact Path assessments be used in the K–8 classroom?

Now, let’s take a look at how Exact Path can make an impact for the schools, educators, and students who adopt it. We start off making testing time a more meaningful experience for both you and your students by reducing unnecessary time spent on testing and making sure that the data it provides is simple to understand and actionable for everyone involved. We started with the actual time that Exact Path assessments require—our adaptive diagnostics are made to be smarter and adjust to appropriate lengths for the ages of your students:

  • For your youngest learners in kindergarten and 1st grade, assessments are about 30 questions, requiring 15–25 minutes to complete.
  • For more mature learners in 2nd through 8th grade, assessments are about 45–50 questions, requiring 30–60 minutes to complete.

Diagnostic assessment windows are determined according to each school’s calendar and are flexible so that students can complete them on any device at any time.

Turning our attention to the data next, it is imperative that the right level of data be made available and that the views and reporting offered to educators be easy to use. In Exact Path, assessments focus on providing several key data outputs:

  1. Growth: Between each successive administration of the diagnostic assessments, a valid measure of growth is reflected in the system, giving you the ability to determine beginning- to end-of-year growth and year-over-year growth.
  2. Norms: Following a year-long nationwide beta study, K–6th grade normative measures will be available this August for all three tested subjects. Research to add 7th–8th grade norms is currently underway throughout the 2017–18 school year.
  3. Lexile® Measures: As a result of completing the reading assessment, students receive an appropriate Lexile measure. This is determined as a result of a robust linking study conducted with MetaMetrics to help accurately predict reading ability.

In addition to what data are provided, how is the results are displayed is vital to making meaning out of our assessments. Using a series of exportable, printable reports and interactive data visualizations, educators can access data that focuses on:

  • Aggregated data trends across a district, school, or grade level
  • Specific student-level performance and growth
  • Performance according to specified demographics
  • Usage trends and fidelity of use
  • Overall implementation success

Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s Exact Path can support individualized learning in your school or district? Check out this short video to see the program in action, or contact us today for a quote. And don’t forget to check back in the coming week as we delve deeper into the other half of this powerful solution—our adaptive learning paths!