Education Week - November 11, 2015 - Special Report - (Page S8)

S8 | EDUCATION WEEK ■ November 11, 2015 Understanding Formative Assessment > C om m on C ore: Tools t o C heck S t u den t s' G rasp P A RC C an d S m ar t er Balan ced o f f er m o r e t han o n ce- a- year t est s By C at her in e G ew er t z W Screenshots of two public interactive modules from the Smarter Balanced digital library show processes by which teachers can interpret common-core standards. hat do PARCC and Smarter Balanced offer in addition to their year-end tests? If you gave teachers across the country a pop quiz on that question, you'd probably get a lot of bewildered looks. Many educators don't know about the teaching tools that those two groups of states built as part of their projects to design end-of-year assessments for the Common Core State Standards. But when the U.S. Department of Education awarded the consortia $360 million five years ago, it sought more than summative assessments in English/language arts and math. It demanded "systems" of assessment that allowed teachers to gauge student learning in real time and adjust instruction accordingly. In response, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium created online libraries of instructional tools for teachers to use. They include sample lessons, instructional videos, grading rubrics, and interim tests. Smarter Balanced's resources made their debut last October, but word is still spreading about their availability. PARCC needed another year to finish its nonsummative resources. It anticipates releasing them this fall. Bernadette Maes, a New Mexico reading coach who helped develop PARCC instructional tasks for grades K-2, said that teachers who piloted the tasks often found that they brought the abstract academic standards to life. "The kinds of big 'a-ha!' moments that we heard a lot were, 'Oh, so that's what the standard says!' or, 'So that's what it means for a student to write at that grade level!' " she said. "It gave them clarity about what they needed to do in the classroom." (For a comparison of different assessment types, see Page S3.) For teachers, formative-assessment tools are far more important than summative tests because they offer real-time insight into students' understanding, said Marianne Perie, the director of the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas, which researches and builds state testing systems. But in the past, teachers have had to contend with fragmented assessment systems, since states typically hired one vendor to build a summative test, and their districts bought interim tests from another, then perhaps hired other experts to build formative tasks, she said. The adoption of the common core by 40-plus states, and the development of a suite of tests and tools to match, opens up better-aligned options, Perie said. Testing or Teaching? That promise, however, isn't available to all states, despite the urging of the federal Education Department. In its original notice inviting applications in 2010, the department said that "assessment content" developed with federal grants should be "widely available, including to states that are not part of consortia." The agency clarified in 2013 that PARCC and Smarter Balanced "may consider charging a reasonable amount" to cover the costs they incur to make materials available. That isn't happening this school year, however, since both PARCC and Smarter Balanced are restricting access to member states. PARCC officials said PARCC is working out

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 11, 2015 - Special Report

Education Week - November 11, 2015 - Special Report
Table of Contents
Bringing Clarity to a Cloudy Idea
Formative-Assessment Misconceptions
Should Formative Assessments Be Graded?
Common Core: Tools to Check Students’ Grasp
Putting Students in Charge of Their Own Learning
An Arizona Initiative Sets Sights on Teachers
Learning Progressions: Road Maps for Teaching
Tech-Powered Teacher Tools

Education Week - November 11, 2015 - Special Report