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Assessment


The South Portland School Department (SPSD) believes assessment is an opportunity for students to show what they know and can do in regards to the essential learning required to be successful in life and work. In addition, SPSD considers the process of assessment to be an integral part of a continuous cycle of inquiry involving curriculum and instruction.

Purposes of Student Assessment System
The purpose of the SPSD Student Assessment System (SAS) is to provide information that will be used to guide and enhance classroom instruction and monitor student progress with respect to the school system curriculum, which is comprised of Common Core State Standards and Maine’s Learning Results.
· to guide teaching and learning,
· to set student goals and monitor student progress toward gaining proficiency on essential learning targets,
· to promote communication regarding student progress toward gaining proficiency on essential learning targets,
· to support curriculum implementation accountability,
· to evaluate program effectiveness,
· to inform professional development, and
· to support responsible and effective allocation of resources to better meet students’ needs.

Principles Underlying Student Assessment System
The following general principles apply to the SPSD Student Assessment System.
· Assessments are aligned to the content standards of the Maine Learning Results.
· The SAS will use multiple measures of student learning. The assessment measures shall be developmentally appropriate.
· The SAS is intended to provide for a fair and equitable opportunity for students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.
· The SAS will include at a minimum classroom, district, and state levels of assessment. Regional and commercially produced tests may be used, but commercially produced tests may not carry a majority of the weight in determining student performance. Similarly, state assessments may not be the only measure of student achievement.
· Efforts shall be made to ensure that testing information contributes to the learning process.
· Accommodations may be made in an assessment based on the needs of a student as established in the student’s Individualized Education Plan, his/her Section 504 plan, or, as is typically employed within classroom instruction.

Terms & Definitions

Assessments are often discussed in terms of the purpose or use of the assessment or the type or style of the of assessment. To be sure that we are using terms consistently within the South Portland School Department, the categories of assessments are defined as are the types of assessments used in the district.

Categories of Assessment
Formative assessments are varied and include but are not limited to, such things as class assignments, projects, quizzes, journal checks, etc. Formative assessments are given in full knowledge that student learning and understanding is forming. Students participate in formative assessment along the way in a given course or area of study to allow teachers to gain insight as to further instruction and support needed to reach the expected target for learning.
Diagnostic assessment, similar to formative assessment, is used to improve student learning. However, unlike formative assessment, which is looking at learning in progress towards learning targets, diagnostic assessment assesses what the learner already knows and/or the nature of difficulties that the learner might have, which, if undiagnosed, might limit their engagement in new learning. It is often used before teaching or when a problem arises.
Summative assessments are intended to measure the sum of a student’s learning, usually at key points in a learning progression. Taking varying forms, which include tests, projects, or performance assessments, summative assessments are usually administered at the end of a unit of learning or designated period of learning (i.e., grading period, school year, etc.). Summative assessments are intended to make a determination – even a judgment – about a student’s learning. There are several categories of assessments that are considered summative.
“Reflective” assessment is a way of describing the analysis of existing assessment data to evaluate instructional practice and programs. Teachers and administrators review student performance on assessments to consider instructional approach, content focus, and resource adjustments that may be required to ensure greater student achievement.

Types of Assessment

Standardized Assessments, such as state tests and college entrance tests most often fall into the summative classification. Frequently these types of tests are referred to as standardized tests and are normative in design. When a test is a normative test it means that a student’s performance is being compared to the performance of other students who took the same test. Scores are reported in terms of a percentile where the average is the 50th percentile and a lower percentile score is below average. Although normative tests allow a student to know how he/she performed in relation to other students tested, normative tests can promote a focus on how well the student performed against the sample rather than how well the student did or did not know the material being assessed. Similarly, the focus on the student performance in comparison to the sample does not highlight the student’s growth or success in meeting student goals. Standardized assessments are used in a summative way to show student achievement and/or growth, depending upon the assessment. Although primarily used as a summative measure, standardized assessments can be used in a diagnostic sense as well. Students who score below a particular level can be identified and their performance on the assessment can be analyzed to determine what they know and what they need for additional instruction. In addition, depending on the standardized assessment and how the data is presented, the information can be used to inform instruction as well and therefore the assessments serves as a formative function as well.

Classroom Based Assessments (CBAs) are designed and administered by classroom teachers to measure student understanding of the learning targets. CBAs take a variety of forms, which include, but are not limited to, tests, projects, and/or performance assessments. There is also great variety in how students will be asked to show their learning. Students may be asked to show their understanding orally, in writing, individually, in groups, in a single session, over multiple sessions, and/or with the use of technological tools.

Components of Assessment System

The following his a description of the variety and type of assessments utilized in South Portland School Department. Each has its own distinct purpose, and together, they combine to form a comprehensive assessment program.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
NAEP is a normed national assessment that allows educational achievement to be compared across states. Federal law requires participation. States and school districts that receive Title I funding to support low SES students must participate in these assessments.
  • Results are not tracked by individual students.
  • Administration controlled by Federal Government.
  • Not linked to federal accountability.
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) a.k.a. NWEA, Northwest Education Assessment (NWEA)
The MAP is a normed test that measures student achievement in readingand math. Scores are used to show growth from year-to-year. MAP assessments are computerized adaptive tests – the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers the previous question and therefore helps identify a students instructional level to aid in planning instruction. Scores are used to group students for instruction and aid teachers in their instructional planning. Currently SPSD uses NWEA for grades 2-8, and some students in grade 9.
  • Results are tracked by individual students, teachers, and buildings for reading and math.
  • Administration controlled by SPSD.
  • Not linked to federal accountability.
Maine Educational Assessment (MEA)
MEA measures student achievement in reading and math in grades 3-8, 11and writing and science in grades 5, 8, 11. The MEA is a computerized test.
  • Results are tracked by individual students, by grade level per building, for assessed content areas by grade level, and for the district by grade level and content area.
  • Administration controlled by State of Maine.
  • Linked to federal accountability.
Kindergarten Screening - DIAL IV
This is a nationally normed tool used to evaluate students’ early literacy skills and development. Student scores are screened to identify students in need of intervention. Teachers can use the data from this tool to do initial groupings of students and plan for instruction.
  • Results are individual students.
  • Administration controlled by SPSD.
Observation Survey
This is a nationally normed tool used to evaluate students’ early literacy skills and development. Student scores are screened to identify students in need of intervention. Teachers can use the data from this tool to do initial groupings of students and plan for instruction.
  • Results are individual students.
  • Administration controlled by SPSD.
Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA2)
This is a nationally normed tool used to evaluate students’ literacy skills and development. Student scores are screened to identify students in need of intervention. DRA2 scores are used to measure and document student growth and achievement in reading.
  • Results are tracked by individual student.
  • Administration controlled by SPSD.
Developmental Spelling Inventory (DSI)
This is a nationally normed tool used to evaluate students’ spelling development. Student scores are screened to identify students in need of intervention. DSA scores are used to measure Teachers can use the data from this tool to do initial groupings of students and plan for instruction.
  • Results are tracked by individual student.
  • Administration controlled by SPSD.
Unit/Skill assessments
Classroom assessments are individually designed assessments used to measure student proficiency as it relates to specific essential learning targets.
  • Results are tracked by individual students and classroom.
  • Administration controlled by individual teachers.

Accomodations

South Portland Schools holds the following beliefs:
  • All children can learn.
  • Expectations for all students must be high with recognition of disability-based needs and the students' strengths.
  • Special Education services are an extension and adaptation of general education, rather than an alternate or separate system unless specified in an IEP.
All students will participate in the Student Assessment System in one of three ways:
  1. Students will participate fully in all components of the assessment system with no accommodations.
  2. Students will participate fully in all components of the assessment system with accommodations as documented in a plan (e.g., IEP, 504, RTI).
  3. Students will participate in an alternate assessment if the student's IEP team determines the student is unable to participate fully in all components of the assessment system with accommodations.
Accommodations for testing must follow the guidelines specified for each standardized assessment – NAEP, MAP, MEA. Accommodations on standardized assessment should be the same as those used at all times in the classroom on Classroom Based Assessments.