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Implementing Study Island for Year-Round Formative Assessment

Implementing Study Island for Year-Round Formative Assessment

Looking for a new strategy to boost student success? Formative assessment is a proven method to improve student achievement both in the short term and over the long run. Formative assessment can take many forms, as long as the assessment meets these criteria:

  • Provides timely and detailed feedback
  • Occurs during the learning process
  • Offers a way to modify teaching and learning

One of the keys to effectively implementing formative assessment is administering assessments throughout the entire school year. Edmentum's Study Island is a great solution for year-round formative assessment; not only do our assessments meet the above criteria, but they are also aligned to your state standards and high-stakes assessments. This means that, while you are gaining the valuable formative data you need to make instructional decisions, your students are practicing the same types of questions that they will see on end-of-year assessments.

Study Island provides three levels of formative assessment: topic or standard level, unit level, and benchmark level. Read on for a more in-depth explanation of these levels and tips to make use of each in your classroom!

Topic- or Standard-Level Assessments

What they are:

These are the assessments located on the Study Island topics page. Your students can take these assessments by navigating to the topics page themselves or through an assignment from you. Each assessment is attached to a mini-lesson to review the content covered. These assessments are built from your state standards, so your topics page may vary slightly from the image below.

Study Island Topic or Standard Level Assessment

How to use them:

The topic- or standard-level assessments are perfect for use as pre-assessments before you teach a lesson, quick formative assessment during a lesson, and assessment after instruction.


Have your students answer four to five questions either the day before or right before you begin instruction. Before starting the lesson, take a moment to view how your students responded using your data dashboard, Edmentum Sensei. Use those insights to make decisions about the best way to  teach the lesson, including which students need to participate, where you should begin, and what pace you should proceed at.

During instruction

Most teachers ask questions of their learners during instruction in order to check for understanding. However, this usually consists of the instructor calling on volunteers to answer questions to move the lesson forward instead of gaining a discernable response from every learner. Use Study Island during instruction to ensure that you are able to gauge the level of understanding of all of your learners. The easiest way to do this is by using Study Island's Group Sessions feature, which allows you to poll your entire class on the same question at the same time and save the responses. If you don't have a class set of devices, you can simply project the Study Island question to the classroom and have your students respond by holding up a whiteboard or sheet of paper with their answers. As long as you are able to see the results immediately, you can use the data to decide how your lesson should proceed.

After instruction

After you have completed instruction, assess your students’ understanding by having them work to earn Blue Ribbons on the Study Island topic that corresponds to your lesson. Game mode is perfect for this type of assessment because students don't get to play the game unless they answer the questions correctly the first time, motivating them to try their best. All students can work at the same time, or if you have limited devices, allow students to take turns. As your students are working, you will be able to see how they are performing in real time through Edmentum Sensei or by pulling data from Study Island’s reports. Use this data to measure each student’s progress and group students accordingly for reteaching, extra practice, or enrichment.

Unit-Level Assessments 

What they are:

Unit-level assessments are built using Study Island's Test Builder feature. This functionality allows you to select the exact Study Island questions that you want to use from the topics that you taught during a unit of study. In turn, this provides you the flexibility to give your students a standards-aligned assessment no matter what topics you chose to include in your unit. The assessment is graded automatically, and results are immediately available to you through reports on the assessment as a whole or on a topic-by-topic basis. Additionally, the assessment experience of students is designed to be similar to those they will see when taking computer-based high-stakes assessments.

Study Island Unit Level Assessment

How to use them:

Once you have decided on the standards that you will be addressing in your unit, use Test Builder to create a custom unit assessment in Study Island. You can do this independently or consider gathering your grade-level team together to get everyone’s input and build the assessment collaboratively. Once the assessment is built, simply publish it to your library within Study Island so that all of the instructors on your team can access it and assign it to their classes. Once students have taken the assessment at the end of the unit, meet with your team to compare results, make plans for how to intervene with struggling learners, and reteach concepts that students didn't master.

Study Island Unit Level Assessment Report

Benchmark Assessments

What they are:

Study Island's long-form Benchmark assessments cover an entire year's worth of standards and are aligned to state summative assessments. These assessments can be used as interim assessments, but they provide a large amount of data about students' strengths and weaknesses and, therefore, serve a formative purpose as well.

How to use them:

Benchmark assessments can only be administered by the Study Island school or district administrator and can be given three or four times during the school year. The assessments should be given in a simulated test environment to ensure the validity of the results. As a result, students get practice on a full-length assessment, and educators get immediate access to results at the domain, standard, and even individual question level so that knowledge gaps can be identified and addressed.

Formative assessment is a proven strategy to help you continuously monitor student progress and make the right adjustments to your instruction. Study Island is a great classroom tool to help you implement formative assessment throughout the school year. Better yet, you won't need to spend months on test preparation in the spring because your students will already have had a significant amount of practice on the same types of questions they will see on state high-stakes assessments.

Ready to learn more about implementing Study Island for year-round formative assessment? Watch this recorded webinar! Or, if you’re already using Study Island in your classroom, access the “getting started page for great formative assessment resources!