10 Must-Ask Questions When Evaluating Student Growth Assessments

It’s important for educators to evaluate their current assessment tools and determine what makes a strong student growth assessment. Being able to demonstrate academic growth to state stakeholders, school boards, and parents is vital, as is meeting school and diocesan goals. To that end, choosing the best growth measurement tool is paramount, for the school, teacher, and student alike.

Here are 10 questions to help evaluate student growth assessments:

Understanding clarity of purpose

1. Be clear about why you are assessing – are you measuring growth over time to inform instruction for all students? To communicate progress? For program evaluation?

 Quality of data and assessment

2. Does the test provide accurate scores for every student, regardless of achievement level, that measure the desired target?

3. Does the way the assessment questions are aligned to the standards make sense both from a content and depth of knowledge perspective?

4. Has the assessment scale been validated and stabilized over time?

5. Will the assessment provide growth norms that allow comparison between similar students? Groups? Schools? Dioceses?

6. Are the norms updated on a regular basis? Were the assessment items used on the test field tested? Have they been evaluated for bias?

 Using the data

7. Have you considered how this assessment will complement your existing testing program?

8. Will you assess at reasonable intervals throughout the academic year to gain better insight on instructional impact?

9. Can the assessment data efficiently provide both immediate insight and long-term growth data?

 What about the student?

10. How can you use the assessment data to engage students with learning goals, and how can families participate in supporting those learning goals?

Assessment is important – whether it be formative, interim or summative – in understanding where students are in their learning. The data can be used to adjust teaching, thereby helping students advance in their learning, but the right assessment is crucial. Learn more about choosing assessments from NWEA® on our Teach. Learn. Grow. blog at nwea.org/blog.

About the Author

Diane Cronin has worked for more than thirty years as a Catholic school teacher and principal. She now partners with Catholic schools across the country to determine what assessments best suit their needs on the Catholic team at NWEA. Contact her with assessment questions at [email protected].