February 3, 2017
Formative assessments play an important role in education. A formative assessment is a tool for evaluating student learning during teaching in order to gauge whether students are understanding the material at that identified time. It is a learning tool, not a final evaluation of mastery. Formative assessment helps teachers alter their approach to the learning objectives if students are struggling with or exceeding grade level standards.
New this year, we are using Star 360 as a formative assessment in Kindergarten through Grade 10 in the areas of reading and math. This assessment replaced the former assessments, Aimsweb and NWEA, that were utilized as a “snapshot” to check on student growth in the areas of reading and math. The Star 360 assessments provide information that helps to plot the course for what each student needs in their learning. This assessment is only one of several methods used to monitor progress and achievement over the year.
Star 360 assessments are computer adaptive and automatically adjust each question based on how the student answered the previous prompt. This reduces testing time and limits frustration and boredom. We will compare students’ progress in reference to normal expected growth and toward criteria for mastery of our state’s standards three times during the year.
The first round of testing for students in grades 1-5 occurred in September. We have just completed the winter testing administration of STAR 360 in late January for all grades K-5. Time spent on testing has been minimal, as it typically takes a student 20-30 minutes to complete each session of reading and math. That being said, those students who require the full allotted time or specified testing accommodations will continue to receive such. Student results will be sent home in early February.
We have been very pleased in our work so far with Star 360 and are confident that your child is having a positive experience with this assessment. We encourage students to try their hardest and do their best, while recognizing that any assessment is an “in-the-moment” snapshot and not the final word on a child’s understanding or skill. Certainly, a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast will go a long way toward minimizing test anxiety and we appreciate your continued support in this regard.
Feel free to contact your child's teacher if you have any questions about the upcoming Star 360 assessment. As always, please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback.
Brian A. Porter, Ph.D.