Putting the Pieces Together: Educators on New Assessments

PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER: Educators on New Assessments Overview Colorado educators are using updated assessments to better measure student mastery of the new Colorado Academic Standards. The Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) is replacing the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP). CMAS includes new social studies and science assessments as well as English language arts and mathematics assessments from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Other assessments used statewide include early literacy assessments, the ACT, the Colorado Alternate Assessment (CoAlt), and Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State (ACCESS), in addition to district-, school-, and teacher-created assessments. Together, these assessments inform decision-making to improve instruction and the measures of student learning that districts included in educator evaluations. About the Findings In 2014, The Colorado Education Initiative and the Colorado Department of Education surveyed teachers and principals in 26 districts across the state about their experiences with assessments and the data they provide. Unless otherwise noted, the findings presented here reflect the percentage of teachers or principals who agree or strongly agree.1 Preliminary results of a recent survey conducted in 26 districts by The Colorado Education Initiative and the Colorado Department of Education suggest that the majority of teachers have access to different types of student learning, performance, and growth data. They use these data in a variety of ways to improve student outcomes. However, the results also indicate that there is room for improvement in developing measures of student learning for teacher evaluations. Districts should consider involving more teachers in selecting measures of student learning used in their evaluations. Those who participate in the selection have dramatically more positive perceptions of these measures and report that they use the data to inform their practice. “I think formative assessments are very helpful. By the time we get TCAP scores, it is too late to make adjustments.” – Elementary teacher Alignment with the Colorado Academic Standards Nearly three-quarters of teachers see alignment between the assessments their students take and the Colorado Academic Standards. Interestingly, this percentage is slightly lower than the percentage of teachers reporting that they see alignment in their district’s policies on assessments and standards (see Connection with Other Initiatives). Teacher Access to Data Overall, most teachers report having access to student data, either by receiving data or finding the data on their own (see Figure 1). These findings are similar to baseline data collected in 2013. The majority of teachers (65 percent) also report that they receive student data in time to inform classroom and instructional decisions. Teachers have the least access to data for making comparisons with similar schools, teachers, and students. Figure 1. Teacher Access to Student Learning, Performance, and Growth Data Classlevel data S S New/ incoming students Similar schools 24% 28% 28% 41% 1 parison dat a om C Similar students 20% 29% parison dat a om C : parison dat a om C : 28% 41% nt-level da de ta tu : 1 Former students Find this information on their own : 45% 51% nt-level da de ta tu : nt-level da de ta tu Current students 48% 33% 62% 30% : S 47% 48% Receive this information Districtlevel data Schoollevel data Similar teachers 18% 25% Most responses have a four-point scale: strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. If responses also include a neutral option, all responses are presented in the accompanying figures.