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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.

READ MORE: Changing the paradigm from testing to assessment

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. 

Accurate Assessments
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.

Involving Students
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.

READ MORE: More than a number
Students, we are listening!


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



October 28, 2015 | By rmbarber | Category: Assessment and System Performance

District News

kids running outside as part of a race

DCSD is requesting parent input on the health and wellness of our students. Last year, DCSD received a large planning grant from Colorado Health Foundation in an effort to assess how the district supports students through the lens of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model (WSCC). The mission of this grant is to review the current state of DCSD's student health and wellness program, and then formulate a three to five-year plan based on stakeholders’ needs, the latest research, and best practices. As part of this process, we would like your input.

How are we doing?

We want to hear from you! How often do you prefer to receive email newsletters from DCSD? How can we improve the news and information you receive? This brief survey should only take a minute or two of your time. Thank you for giving us your input!

Tell us what you think, here!


glowing purple lights hover over trays of seedlings in a dark room

It may look like a plain, white shipping container was just parked on the backyard grounds of Mountain Vista High School. The contents of the container are anything but plain, though. Walking inside the container, different colors of ambient lighting glow, futuristic-looking equipment and tall towers are suspended from the ceiling, and the humidity level is set to 70 percent. The container has been recycled into a new kind of learning opportunity for students.