There is a LYS district in Texas that is in the midst of implementing common assessments. The district is taking the lead on the six weeks assessments (awesome); the campuses are taking the lead on the three weeks assessments (awesomer). The following is a correspondence between the curriculum specialists (and new LYS’ers) and me that I thought that some of the LYS Nation might find helpful.

Question 1: How many questions should be on the assessments (3 week vs. 6 week), taking into consideration one assessment is campus based and the other is district based?

Answer 1: The three-week assessments (created by the campuses) should consist of 7 to 15 questions. The actual number is determined by the number of critical concepts covered during the three-week assessment window and the number of review items required.

The six-week assessments (created by the district) may have significantly more questions than what is on the three-week assessments. First, the assessment window is twice as long, which means that there are more critical concepts that have been covered. Second, there are times when the district needs data from a TAKS (state accountability test) similar assessment. However, a good rule of thumb is to use 15 to 30 questions.

Question 2: Should there be a time limit on the assessment? If so should it be the same for the three-weeks and six-week assessment?

Answer 2: The goal for the three-week assessment is that it can be completed in 30 minutes or less.

The six-week assessment should naturally take longer, since the assessment has more questions. However, it is our recommendation that the assessment take no longer than a class period, unless the purpose is to specifically mimic the TAKS (state accountability) test.

Question 3: Should we only put one question per TEKS (state curriculum standard) on the district assessment?

Answer 3: There are a number of factors to consider.
1) Some TEKS (state curriculum standard) are assessed in different ways, so the district assessment may need to reflect this.
2) Historically, some TEKS (state curriculum standard) are assessed on the TAKS (state accountability) test more than others. Again, the district assessment may be designed to reflect this reality.

Question 4: Should each district assessment for each six-weeks have the same number of questions?

Answer 4: Not only is this not recommended, the reality of district assessment needs would seem to predispose different assessment lengths at different times of the year.

Question 5: Is there any other information you feel would be good for us to share with principals and teachers?

Answer 5: Just the reminder that the purpose of assessments is to generate information that drives instructional decisions and adjustments. To not assess is to leave classroom, campus and district performance to chance.
Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…