Educators and communities are considering various scenarios for reopening school. Districts may implement a hybrid model of face-to-face and remote learning. School schedules may be staggered. Some schools may need to close for a time. We expect that these scenarios will differ by state—and even differ by districts within a state.
Fitting assessment in the plan will be important. Teachers depend on assessment data to develop instructional strategies and create personalized learning plans. From our conversations with district leaders, we know it will be vital to have actionable data on how students are progressing toward learning standards. Without state summative results to rely on, as one assistant superintendent put it, “any data is better than no data.”
Educators need flexible models for assessment administration, either delivered in a face-to-face setting or at home—either online or using paper-and-pencil (or both)—to achieve the greatest degree of equity.
Having helped educators plan their assessment programs for more than a decade, we believe that teachers, families, and students can work together to create optimal conditions for at-home assessment and will benefit greatly from the resulting data that allows teachers to define a path to help every student achieve.
We recognize the challenges ahead and are committed to supporting a flexible model of assessment administration. Whether administering teacher-created formative assessments or Certica’s CASE Assessments, we offer these guidelines to aid the process, if assessments are to be taken at home:
- Convey a clear message to students and parents about the purpose of the assessments
Ensure students and parents know that the assessment is being used to check the progress of students against learning standards. Share with them that the results are being used to develop a more personalized learning plan for each student.
- De-emphasize the use of grades
Research has shown that schools with a strong focus on competition and achievement tend to invoke an increased amount of cheating among students. Again, the message should be that the assessment is about improvement and progress, not a final measure or grade.
- Review your district honor code statement or board policy concerning cheating
Create an honor code statement to accompany the assessment that ensures students understand what is expected. Research has shown that the implementation of an honor code or integrity statement is effective in reducing cheating, especially when the honor code is integrated into the school climate.
- Consider establishing clearly defined testing windows
This is especially important for the at-home administration of online assessments. For example, communicate that on Monday, between 8:30 am and 11:30 am, the assessment will be live in the online application and needs to be completed during this time. This defined window creates less opportunity for sharing of information and eliminates the possibility that certain students may have taken the assessment days or hours before another student. Or, for paper-and-pencil administration, set the expectation that the assessment is to be taken at a certain time.
- Enable video conferencing
Consider Zoom or another video conferencing application during the administration of at-home assessments where teachers can serve as virtual proctors. Districts should preserve the privacy of K-12 students by conducting virtual proctoring only by known teachers, school administrators, and staff associated with your school or district.
- Ensure that students know how to access the test administration platform and login credentials
This information should be included in instructional materials prior to the opening of the test administration. It may be helpful to convey this information a few days prior to the assessment being administered and allow a time for students and parents to ask questions.
- Consider paper-and-pencil administration if students are at home and without reliable internet
Paper-and-pencil may be more logistically complicated but is a viable option that achieves a level of equity.
• Copies of the assessment will need to be printed and included in take-home packets.
• Assessments should be sealed in a separate envelope within the take-home packet, as it conveys the idea that the assessment is secure and not just another item in a packet of work being sent home for the students.
• Include a message that will draw the parent’s and student’s attention and sets the stage for taking the assessment.
• Include a detailed set of instructions for the student and parent
• Create a student checklist with specific reminders, such as finding a quiet location to take the assessment, removing electronic devices not needed for the assessment, and gathering required materials, such as pencils and calculators.
We offer our assistance, guidance, and expertise in all matters related to assessment and the most effective use of assessment data. Further, we are committed to providing teachers, families, and students with flexible and equitable models for assessing students’ mastery of learning standards.