IDAHO STATEWIDE ASSESSMENT SYSTEM:
This session is designed to have you reflect on the entire assessment system in Idaho. The first thing to think about is the notion of "accountability" and what it means to you as an educator and what it means to families, our communities and even Idahoís policy makers.
Accountability in Idaho:
In Idaho, accountability means to be assured that all our students in the education system are learning and have the opportunity to become productive citizens. Both the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho Department of Education have been given the charge to ensure that Idahoís educators in our school systems are being held responsible for student learning.
Accountability in Idaho:
The two significant pieces of legislation that have affected the way Idahoans look at accountability in education and the assessment system are: IDEA and the No Child Left Behind Act. IDEA required all students with disabilities who had been left out in the past to participate in statewide assessments. NCLB now requires all states to make sure all students are proficient in reading and mathematics by 2012. These pieces of legislation came as a result of when business leaders, families, politicians, and educators put their focus on expected standards of learning. We had the evolution of the current standards-based education system.
The federal and state legislation have been guiding Idahoís Board of Education. They have had to designAn accountability system has been designed so that all studentís educational needs are addressed. This accountability system includes a variety of statewide assessments that are intended to measure and monitor every studentís learning. The Board of Ed asks that the Idaho Department of Ed ensures that the assessments are implemented in all schools in the state and the performance of all students is measured and monitored.
Idaho Achievement Standards:
So Standards-based education in Idaho was established with the development of the Idahoís Achievement Standards. They are statements of what all students should to be able to do, such as, "read a variety of traditional and electronic materials for information and understanding." Then each standard is broken down into content knowledge and skills which reflects what a student should be able to do to demonstrate the standard. In the example to read for information and understanding, an example of a knowledge and skill would be "to determine the main idea within a text." Then in order to help everyone know what was meant in a content knowledge and skill, sample applications were written to demonstrate how a student might show us that knowledge and skills. So to continue with the example that was started, a sample application for determining the main idea might be to "summarize the content of a book in an oral book report."
For a complete document of the Idaho Achievement Standards, they can be accessed through one of the two websites given.
Framework of the General Education Curriculum:
The next notion to reflect on is "what do the standards mean to educators and the curriculum that are using to teach students in their classrooms?" Well, standards-based education shows how the Idaho Achievement Standards have become the framework for the district curriculum that is being taught to all students.
It is now critical that the curriculum, all teachers use, focuses in on the knowledge and skills necessary for students to achieve the learning standards.
Alignment of the General Education Curriculum:
Since it is critical for the curriculum to focus on the state standards, districts must look at the alignment of their curriculum to the state standards. Some considerations in an alignment are the depth of knowledge which looks at the complexity of the skills in the curriculum and the breadth of knowledge which involves the scope of the curriculum. How does the curriculumís depth and breadth of knowledge relate to the depth and breadth of the content knowledge and skills in the standards?
Now when teachers considers what a student must know and do in the curriculum, what happens when a student who has significant disabilities are unable to achieve at the level of complexity and scope that the general education curriculum demands?
Decision to be involved in Alternate Knowledge & Skills:
Well, Idahoís education system is still accountable to students achieving the standards even though the complexity and scope of what they learn to do may differ. So, Alternate knowledge and skills were developed to ensure that even students with the most significant disabilities affecting their cognitive and adaptive behaviors will have access to the general education curriculum even though they may not be fully learning the same knowledge and skills being taught at their grade levels.
When you take the opportunity to become familiar with the alternate knowledge and skills currently located at the SDEís website or if you have them at your fingertips now, you will see how they have been written with a functional, daily living skill focus but still provide students with equal learning opportunities. For example, all students will learn to read for information and understanding, it is just that some students demonstrate it differently.
Participation in an :
So, when it is obvious that studentís with significant disabilities are going to focus on alternate knowledge and skills, these studentís participate in alternate curriculum that differs in scope and complexity. Their course of study is designed to learn skills necessary for daily living and lead just as a productive life as anyone else. However, Instruction is more individualized because of the necessary adaptations.
Access through Alternate Curriculum:
A good illustration of how the achievement standards, content knowledge and skills, and sample applications work together in the general education curriculum and the alternate curriculum is in the Administratorís Guide to Idaho Alternate Assessments.
Finally, the last idea to reflect on are the actual performance measures used in Idahoís accountability system. In Idahoís accountability system, several assessments are used to gather information about student learning. It is the individual tests that are single measures of achievement. Therefore, the statewide assessment plan has several goals for administrating the tests. They are intended to measure student progress to the state standards, measure performance over time, inform teachers in classrooms and assist them in designing instruction, assist districts in making curriculum adjustments and inform parents of their childís progress.
Alignment of the Assessment System with Idaho Standards:
As it was just mentioned, one of the major goals of the assessment system is to measure student progress to the state standards. Idaho has and will continue to conduct studies to ensure the alignment of their individual tests to the general ed knowledge and skills or the alternate knowledge and skills.
We also have to consider how the student might demonstrate their performance. This may vary for students with disabilities. Some might need accommodations in order them to show their progress toward the general ed knowledge and skills and others with more significant disabilities may need an alternate assessment.
Types of Statewide Assessments:
Idahoís Assessment plan includes a number of individuals tests to measure all studentís progress.
The Idaho State Achievement Tests are criterion referenced which measures performance on specific knowledge and skills in reading, language and mathematics at various grade levels. They are given at least twice a year and is also a blended test that reports how a student performed at grade level as well as a level of achievement score.
The Direct Math Assessment is a one time performance test that requires a student to apply their knowledge and skills to complete specific tasks in mathematics.
The Direct Writing Assessment is also a one time performance test that requires a student to demonstrate their knowledge and skills of language in the writing process.
The Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) is a quick basic test to indicate the studentís level of performance with reading literacy skills.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) compares Idaho students to students nationwide and compares statesí progress toward be accountable to student learning.
Finally, the Idaho Alternate Assessments are three measures that rate a studentís performance toward a defined set of alternate knowledge and skills in the areas of receptive language, expressive language, and mathematics. The assessments include a data collection process that occurs over time and is not a one-day event.
Another section of this training material will provide you further details and information in an overview of Idaho Alternate Assessments.