By Theresa Harrington
Changes are underway to fix flaws in tests designed to help teachers pinpoint student weaknesses before they take Common Core–aligned assessments each spring.
The tests, known as “interim assessments,” are similar to the end-of-the year Smarter Balanced assessments that are used to assess student achievement and progress, as well as that of their schools and districts, in math and English language arts. More than 3 million California students take the Smarter Balanced assessments each year.
Many teachers have given the optional interim tests to their students during the school year to gauge how they are doing, hoping to adjust what or how they teach in advance of the final assessments that are used to fulfill state and federal accountability requirements.
But a panel of three teachers and a school district administrator told the Assembly Education Committee at a hearing in Sacramento earlier this month that they couldn’t get a clear picture of students’ progress because the reports they received on how students did on the interim assessments lacked enough detail to be useful. Specifically, the reports didn’t include any of the questions on the interim tests, students’ responses or the specific standards they were tested on.