Ed Focus Initiative

Data Analysis for High-Stakes Tests and Benchmark Assessments

With so much emphasis on “being data driven” - schools are information-rich and data-poor! Worse,they are collecting and assembling and tabulating and highlighting - but doing NOTHING different with students than what they did before.

We live in an era where there are the Ohio Achievement Tests and/or Ohio Graduation Tests, formative and short-cycle assessments, summative unit tests, quarterly benchmark tests, and teacher-made classroom tests. Stretched end-to-end, more classroom time is used in testing than in teaching.

Many districts have fallen into the trap of using test scores to brag or to make excuses
- but not to decide WHAT to teach and WHEN, nor what to do differently in classroom instruction. Worse, we see teachers who give the same test over again so that students can “earn more points toward a grade!” District testing programs should not be about the points earned or the final grade but the mastery being demonstrated. Moreover, the teachers’ energies should be focused on how the results will impact instruction. What will be different in classroom teaching, based on students’ performance on the tests?

In the name of RTI, we find districts who use a placement test in the fall to sort students, and then label them as to whether or not they are likely to achieve the grade level outcomes. These labels become Tier I, II , or III, and students are placed into corresponding classroom groups. The purpose of any of the testing done should be to inform instruction and determine how best to meet the needs of the students in the class, not to sort students like papers or magazines as “throw-aways!”

With the onset of many electronic test item banks and on-line testing programs, it is becoming even easier to keep right on with these unproductive testing behaviors. So many districts are ignoring the axiom that “if we keep on doing what we’ve always done - even though we’re now doing it on-line - - we’ll keep on getting what we’ve always gotten!”

But EdFOCUS offers some alternative paths!