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KU center releases new instructional tools for use in Kansas schools

Wed, 04/18/2012

LAWRENCE — The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas has released new formative assessment tools, marking the first time the center has released formative assessment tools that target the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts. This continues the center’s efforts to assist Kansas schools’ transition to using these educational content standards as the basis for instruction.

The new formative assessment tools contain 23 new texts and accompanying items for grades three through eight. In order to support the Common Core’s reading standards for literature and for informational texts, text types include stories, informational texts and, for the first time, poetry.

The format of the questions includes traditional multiple-choice items and constructed-response tasks, which require students to write brief responses. In addition, there are suggestions for classroom activities and discussion questions. Teachers are encouraged to preview the formative assessment tools at the website to decide which tasks, activities and discussion questions to include with the multiple-choice items. Teachers can also add additional classroom activities of their own in order to customize their formative assessments to meet their needs. The website can be found online.

“The variety of tools offered here provides teachers the flexibility in picking and choosing which Common Core State Standards they want to assess in their classroom on a particular day,” said Lauren Adams, Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation English language arts test development coordinator. “The tools are designed so that teachers can make the tools work for their classrooms and their students. Additionally, the tools serve as a resource to help teachers with their transition to the Common Core.”

Formative assessments are intended to be used as part of routine instructional activities in which teachers and students work together to actively assess students’ comprehension of related concepts or skills. Teachers are encouraged to use student response data to make appropriate adjustments to instruction day-by-day and week-by-week. Research studies conducted at KU and elsewhere show that formative assessment can improve student learning.

“Formative assessment processes are an essential ingredient to adjusting teaching and learning, particularly as schools continue their implementation of Common Core Standards,” said Matt Copeland, education program consultant for language arts and literacy at the Kansas State Department of Education. “Although different from the items being created by the SMARTER Balanced Consortium for the eventual next generation of summative assessments, the formative assessment items developed by the center provide a tool for teachers in Kansas to help gauge achievement on one of the four strands of the English language arts and literacy standards.”

“Combined with other tools to assess language, speaking and listening, and writing—such as the Kansas Writing Instruction and Evaluation tool also being developed by the center — these items can help educators create the kinds of formative assessment processes necessary to measure and influence teaching and learning in the area of reading,” Copeland said.

The Kansas State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. Following gradual implementation during the next few years, the standards are tentatively scheduled to impact all K-12 state assessments in Kansas by 2015.

Last October, the center released formative tools that target selected math concepts and skills described in the standards. For more information on the Common Core, visit http://www.corestandards.org/ .

For more than 30 years, the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluations has partnered with the Kansas State Department of Education to deliver a variety of assessment services under the Kansas State Assessment Program, the comprehensive assessment system Kansas schools use to determine whether a student learns the intended curriculum. The center also offers online training resources, practice tests and tutorials to help prepare students and educators for the Kansas assessments.



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