Creating a balance in assessment
CASTLE ROCK – The Douglas County School District (DCSD) is working to build a Balanced Assessment System, which will provide a comprehensive view of student achievement and growth, rather than relying on a single data point, like the State's standardized test.
The District and all of its schools are collaborating on the new system, which aims to measure students, teachers, and leaders on the things that matter most, and providing teachers and students with immediate and valuable feedback, helping to direct and ultimately achieve learning.
What is a Balanced Assessment System?
A Balanced Assessment System (BAS) creates a balance between the varying purposes for gathering data and types of assessments: formative practices, interim tasks, and summative products. A BAS will also use accurate assessments to gather valid data, and involve students in the process.
What is in DCSD's Balanced Assessment System?
The Balanced Assessment System includes the assessments teachers generate and use daily, tests that schools select and the ones that are required by the State.
The system is balanced, but it is important to note that does not mean that the tests required by the State are given the same weight as the teacher-generated assessments. TCAP, READ Act, CMAS and Colorado ACT are only a small slice of DCSD’s Balanced Assessment System.
As shown in the graph, DCSD places far more emphasis on the more frequent performance assessments. These proficiency checks at the beginning, at benchmarks and at the end of units do not feel like tests to students, and they better inform instruction for teachers.
Measuring what matters most
Douglas County is empowering its educators to build their own quality assessments that measure what matters most as defined by our Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum. DCSD had initially hoped to utilize commercially available assessments, but after much research the District determined those tests could not adequately measure DCSD's World Class Outcomes, 4Cs, and 21st Century Skills.
Only when assessments are accurate and the data generated is valid can teachers make sound instructional decisions, and students make necessary adjustments. The four components making assessments accurate are found in the assessment calculator. These components are: (1) purpose, (2) outcomes, (3) design, and (4) feedback.
While students are the single most important factor in their own academic success, little, if any, thought was put into how they felt about the tests they took or the quality of the feedback they received. That is not the case in Douglas County, where students are giving feedback during the creation and usage of performance task assessments.
The Future of DCSD's Balanced Assessment System
Eventually, the goal will be to provide stakeholders with reports on student growth and to offer the ability for families to gain insight into a school’s BAS and a teacher’s lessons and assessment. In fact, in December, parents will receive a new Elementary Progress Report, which will provide information on students' progress on the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, 4Cs, and 21st Century Skills.
READ MORE: Elementary Progress Report