SMARTER BALANCED READY: Big Idea #2

Teachers Use Interim Assessment Data to Improve Instruction

Teachers select Interim Assessment Blocks (IABs) that are aligned to grade-level curriculum units to determine their students’ progress. The following examples demonstrate how these IABs help improve teaching.

A 5th grade team in Pocatello/Chubbuck School District, Idaho, met over the summer to embed the IABs where appropriate in the unit of instruction. They discovered great resources to learn about hand scoring that are helpful for teachers. Teachers say using hand scoring has helped them understand the rigor expected for the writing and mathematics responses.
During 2015–16 in Lakeland School District, Idaho, classroom teachers tried out several IABs and discussed the student data in their Monday collaboration time. They identified areas of alignment between the IABs and the grade-level curriculum and discussed using the IABs as pre- and post-assessments during instruction. Because all teachers have access to all grade levels of the IABs, they are able to give an IAB from the previous grade as a pre-test, and then after instruction, use the IAB from the current grade level to assess what has been learned.
San Juan Unified School District, California, is training teachers to score the responses to interim assessments to understand the rigor and curriculum alignment of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. In 2015–16, survey results revealed that a majority of teachers needed professional development support and instructional resources to help students with the process skills of strategic thinking, research, investigation, and high-level problem solving skills. The district sponsored a training of trainers to reach all 65 school sites. At the end of the year, they documented the use of interim assessments in 16 of 65 schools and will analyze the performance of students who participated in interim assessments compared to students who did not participate.

In 2016–17, the district is continuing to expand training with face-to-face sessions and narrated PowerPoint presentations to reach as many teachers as possible. See more information in the CAASPP in Action report on the California Department of Education website. The district moved forward in 2016 to upload teachers into the Online Assessment Reporting System (OARS) for hands-on access to data as soon as it was available in April. District staff taught teachers how to read the data and supported teachers who engaged colleagues in in-depth data discussions with tools and templates (ZIP) using Smarter Balanced claim-level data. In 2017 they will also use target-level data. The outcome of these data conversations has led the majority of the sites to build 2016–17 testing schedules for ELA Grades 3–5 and Math Grades 6–8 to complete testing and return the results in June for articulation and summer planning.

In Cupertino Union School District, California, district staff created a professional learning protocol for principals to train teachers with an inquiry approach. The protocol correlates specific IABs aligned to the curriculum at each grade level and the data received from the assessments, as well as explains how to interpret assessment data related to the student’s learning progress. Access the protocol and accompanying resources here. For a more detailed description of the implementation process, please see the CAASPP in Action Report on the California Department of Education website.