SUBJECT: Assessment Tools

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  • Self-Placement: Helping Honors Students Thrive when They Choose High-Level Courses

    Posted April 17, 2017 in Curriculum & Instruction

    Right now, students across the U.S. are registering for next fall’s high school classes — including honors and advanced placement. Traditionally, schools used test scores or previous coursework to place students in AP or honors courses, but lately more students can self-place in these courses. Students getting into high-level courses essentially because they want to…

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  • Let Students Choose their Assessments and Watch their Creativity Bloom

    Posted April 11, 2017 in Teaching Strategies

    It’s easy to fall into a routine of assessing students the same way over and over. But letting students choose from a menu of assessments can do them a lot of good — and make you a better teacher. Sure, it takes time to create alternative assessments, but there are tons of resources online that…

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  • Skip the Scantron: Why Evidence-Centered Design is a Better Testing Option

    Posted October 17, 2016 in Featured Stories

    In an era of increased standardized testing and a focus on standards and competencies, teachers must use the best methods for measuring student learning. The rote memorization and multiple-choice tests of years past are increasingly incapable of assessing the complex tasks modern students perform. These old testing strategies are too narrow for the high-level benchmarks…

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  • Cognitive Testing Helps Company Adapt Learning to Students’ Abilities

    Posted September 13, 2016 in Educational Technology

    Today’s education models tend to focus on a child’s achievement deficits — if students aren’t reading at grade level, for instance, then teachers try to get them caught up. Mindprint Learning flips this model, using cognitive tests to identify children’s strengths and engage them in ways that compensate for their weaknesses. The goal: Let kids…

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  • The New SAT: What Students and Educators Can Expect

    Posted June 22, 2016 in Featured Stories

    High school students preparing to take the SAT will face a whole new landscape. In 2016, the College Board, maker of the SAT, rolled out some of the biggest content changes in the exam’s history. These revisions were designed to better reflect what high school students actually learn and the knowledge they’ll need in college,…

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  • What Happens when Parents Opt Their Children Out of Standardized Tests

    Posted December 23, 2015 in Featured Stories

    Few things put parents and schools more at odds than standardized tests. Parents see the tests as pointless because they teach little more than how to take a standardized test. Yet schools know these tests can determine their ability to stay afloat: If students fail the test, the school could lose funding, get put on…

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  • Begin at the End: How Backwards Design Enriches Lesson Planning

    Posted September 2, 2015 in Featured Stories

    There is a perplexing experience that plagues all teachers: After an excellent classroom experience where students seem solid in their understanding and application of content, they leave class, attempt homework, have no idea how to do it, and return the next day with wrong answers or empty papers. How do students lose knowledge the minute…

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  • Useless Projects, Limited Tests: A Look at Teaching Practices Worth Reconsidering

    Posted July 2, 2015 in From the Principal's Office

    Summer is a good time to talk about classroom practices worth reconsidering — the stuff we do mainly because of tradition or a perceived lack of better options. Of course there are many tried-and-true teaching choices, but we also do a lot of things more for convenience and familiarity, and less for how they help…

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  • Tips for Teachers in the Middle of Testing Season

    Posted March 2, 2015 in From the Principal's Office

    Standardized testing has been a mainstay of the educational landscape for decades. Every spring teachers, students and administrators would set aside time to administer state-required tests on a variety of subjects, and then use the results the following year to assist students, measure school success and update the school’s overall approach to learning. This year…

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  • Why Some Schools are Rethinking Grading and Evaluation

    Posted February 3, 2015 in Curriculum & Instruction

    Most schools follow standard grading systems, with a letter scale of A through F, and a corresponding numerical value used to calculate students’ grade point averages. Although this system helps us to understand and track student performance on a universal scale, there are some drawbacks to the method. Some critics argue that assigning numerical or…

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  • PD for Principals: Data Sharing for Support and Accountability

    Posted November 25, 2014 in Leaders' Link

    Patrick Lencioni, author of numerous business bestsellers including “Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars” has said, “If everything is important, than nothing is.” This applies to education leadership as well, and nowhere more than in the area of monitoring achievement data. Defeat assessment ambiguity by identifying important achievement data With many states still transitioning from standardized…

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  • Rubric’s Cue: What’s the Best Way to Grade Essays?

    Posted November 12, 2014 in Featured Stories

    Because teaching is filled with spirited debate about best practices, the passionate responses to the National Council of Teachers of English’s recent Facebook post asking how instructors feel about grading rubrics should be no surprise. Some teachers embrace rubrics as an incredible device for communicating instructor expectations and grading students’ written work. Critics complain that…

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  • Why ‘Big Data’ is Relevant to Classroom Teachers

    Posted October 9, 2014 in From the Principal's Office

    Ever-more powerful computers are enabling a society-wide push toward the collection and analysis of all forms of data in every workplace — including classrooms. The result is the rising tide of “big data,” which means collecting facts from a large number of sources, analyzing them with advanced computer software and detecting patterns that can help…

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  • How Teachers Use Student Data to Improve Instruction

    Posted July 2, 2014 in Featured Stories

    Formal and informal assessments provide significant insight into students’ progress, curriculum effectiveness and teaching strategies. Although there has been recent parental pushback on overuse of standardized tests, the data collected from them does not drift off into the ether. One of the best ways to encourage parental and student buy-in for assessment is to explain…

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  • Why We Need to Think Deeply About Improving Classroom Testing

    Posted May 29, 2014 in From the Principal's Office

    “You can’t help a cow grow by weighing it everyday” This quote jumps out at me when I think of how much testing happens in our schools today. That being said, the plain truth is that testing, in many different forms, is here to stay. The question is: What can we do to make our…

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  • Look Beyond Tests and Quizzes to Help Students Master Their Material

    Posted May 26, 2014 in From the Principal's Office

    Progressive education researcher and writer Alfie Kohn speaks often of children becoming disillusioned about school when they begin to feel that education is something being done “to” them, rather than “with” them. While the many ways children can be included in classroom activities, school functions and other aspects of their education is well-covered territory, I…

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  • How Teachers Can Ease the Stress of Performance Reviews

    Posted April 24, 2014 in From the Principal's Office

    Over the past decade or so, the world of a teacher has changed dramatically. A new set of standards has been introduced, standardized testing has become increasingly interwoven into instructional decisions and teacher evaluations have become more rigorous and completed more often. The stakes have gotten higher for everybody involved. I have no desire to…

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  • How to Make Sure Teacher Evaluations Succeed

    Posted April 10, 2014 in From the Principal's Office

    Three significant shifts in American education over the past five years have generated substantial pressure on school administrators to improve the effectiveness of their performance reviews: Widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards. More states basing teacher evaluations in part on standardized test scores. Wider use of in-depth observation to measure teachers’ classroom performance….

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  • The Value of a Master’s Degree for Teachers: Better Student Outcomes

    Posted March 5, 2014 in Featured Stories Updated March 2, 2017

    Intuitively, it makes sense for teachers to continue their education beyond their bachelor’s degree and earn a master’s degree or higher. But does it add up logically? We looked at the latest research on the subject and found a master’s degree benefits not only a teacher’s paycheck and job prospects, but it also improves their…

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  • Finding the Right Balance on Standardized Testing

    Posted February 13, 2014 in From the Principal's Office

    The “new normal” in education has many districts working hard to balance two competing forces. On one hand, we have to consider the lifelong-learning needs of our students. They require our help to become useful and contributing members of society, to understand the democratic principles that guide our nation and to build life skills to…

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