Field Testing an Aligned Assessment

Author: Helios Education Foundation

May 30, 2014

Throughout the past couple of months, students in both Arizona and Florida have been participating in field tests associated with the new Common Core State Standards, called the Florida Standards and Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.   The field tests are voluntary, and four million students from 36 states are participating nationally.  Students in Hillsborough County, Florida and throughout the state of Arizona are testing the new assessment. 

The field tests are a step in the right direction to more fully integrate the new academic standards into the classroom. They will give educators a chance to evaluate things such as the quality of each test question and the technical capabilities of schools to administer the tests, which are primarily computer-based (a paper and pencil version is also available).  In addition, the field testing will help educators prepare parents for what to expect when the new assessments are implemented.

General field testing of any test is considered a best practice in test development because it  helps school districts understand how the new testing will work within classrooms and it benefits  the test developers who can look at the results and make tweaks to questions based on how students answered them.   

Florida’s Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has recommended the American Institutes for Research to produce Florida’s next statewide exam.  The Arizona State Board of Education is about to release an RFP to determine Arizona’s test.   The next exam will likely not be a multiple choice exam but will be more complex and multi-step, allowing for students to demonstrate their knowledge through the entire question, not just coming to the right answer.  It will require critical thinking and a deeper understanding of concepts.

“It is critical that we adopt and implement state tests that will accurately assess our student’s progress toward college and career readiness,” said Stacy Carlson, Vice President and Program Director, Florida Transition Years, Helios Education Foundation.  “We need to ensure our students are able to think critically and solve problems, not just find the right answer.” 

The most important thing to consider is that each state implements an assessment that is rigorous, aligns with the standards being taught in the classroom and accurately assesses how students are mastering grade level academic content.  This is critical to help ensure students are on the path toward college and career readiness.   Assessments should also inform the states’ accountability measures and provide information to educators to help advance the academic success of students.


Category: Common Core

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