District Testing Overview
Purpose: The State has set testing requirements for school districts. Each of the Ohio Achievement Tests is a reading test with content subject matter. This supports our need to make sure that our students have a strong phonics background in order to be able to learn to read. The National Reading Panel has determined five areas of reading necessary for children to understand in order to be good readers: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Phonics is not tested after a student completes third grade.
Rationale: It is important that we know how our children are progressing at each grade level to ensure that every Strongsville City School student reaches their full potential. In the year 2007-08, the State will institute the term “value added.” Value added means that the state will be measuring individual student progress from one year to the next. In order for us to know that our students are progressing from year to year, we cannot afford to wait for the state to tell us how our students are doing. We need to know throughout the year the progress each student makes. We need to keep data on students and provide assistance to insure the success of all children. What follows is a listing of test type, its purpose and rationale and an overview for using this tool.
KRA -L (Kindergarten Readiness Assessment-Literacy
Purpose: The KRA-L test measures what a student knows entering into school for the first time. The state department instituted the test for the first time in 2005-06. KRA-L scores are sent to the state.
Rationale: The data gives us baseline knowledge of what kindergarten students know and what needs to be taught to get them ready for first grade.
Application: The KRA-L test is given to every student entering kindergarten within the first six weeks of school.
DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) and QRI (Qualitative Reading Inventory)
Purpose: Teachers need to know how a student is applying the reading process and comprehending unknown material. These reading assessments measure a student's cumulative knowledge of reading. The DRA and the QRI are authentic assessments that use reliability and validity data. A teacher does not teach the DRA or the QRI prior to assessing the student. Any student not performing on grade level may be tested in mid-year to determine what progress has been reached. Kindergarten students are assessed using the DRA at the end of the year. The English Language Committee recommended the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) and QRI (Qualitative Reading Inventory) be adopted as part of our English Language Arts program.
Rationale: Students need to be able to take the five areas of reading as designated by the National Reading Panel and blend them together to comprehend and read at grade level. These tests are a consistent method of measuring student reading and comprehension levels of our students across the district. These reading assessments replicate what might be read by students on the State test. The closer students are reading and comprehending on grade level, the better they will do on the state tests.
Application: Teachers administer the DRA (grades 1-3) and the QRI (grades 4-6) during the first semester and at the end of the year during second semester.
Diagnostic Tests Overview
Purpose: The state makes diagnostic tests available in grades K through 3 to help teachers in planning focused, standards-based instruction for students. They are flexible tools designed to help Ohio administrators, teachers and students reach two over-arching goals: 1) increase student learning of the academic content standards and 2) inform and strengthen classroom instruction. The diagnostic assessments serve as tools that assess student strengths and weaknesses to inform instructional decisions. The results from the diagnostic assessments measure student progress toward meeting standards and help teachers plan instructional activities leading to student success.
Rationale: Diagnostic tests help a teacher determine the adequate yearly progress of individual students in meeting a year’s growth.
Application: We are required by the state to give diagnostic assessments periodically throughout the school year. All districts/buildings must administer, within 30 calendar days after the date of transfer, the diagnostic assessments to any transfer student who has not yet been assessed.
Harcourt Reading Program
Purpose: The Harcourt Trophies Reading Series is a nationally developed Reading program to be used across the United States with all children. The Harcourt program assessments test what a teacher has taught from that program. It gives the teacher a basic knowledge of what a student understands or what skills the student still needs to strengthen. The Harcourt reading placement tests give teachers information on where to start students within the program.
Rationale: This program includes “tabs” to indicate how it meets Ohio state indicators. The Harcourt program assesses the skills taught to students as introduced in the reading program. Students may be reading on grade level but their comprehension level may vary based on what they are reading. With the Harcourt reading program, a teacher may find that students are reading and comprehending on level, but when given new non-fiction material outside of the reading program students may not be able to transfer the skill to the new material. Teachers need to know how students are transferring the reading process and comprehending unknown material. The Harcourt program in tandem with the DRA/QRI allows us to achieve this goal. We need to address this deficit to ensure students are prepared to pass the Ohio Reading Achievement Tests.
Application: The Harcourt reading program has many on-going assessments within the program to address skills taught within the context of the program. According to our Harcourt representative, all of these assessments do not need to be used.
Why are we using both the DRA/QRI and Harcourt as leveling systems?
Both the Harcourt Trophies Reading Program and the DRA/QRI are assessments for reading instruction. The Harcourt Trophies shows us how students are performing in relationship to the program that is being used for instruction. The DRA/QRI shows us how our students are performing/progressing in relationship to global benchmarks. The DRA/QRI gives us information as to how students comprehend reading material in relationship to real life reading experiences. DRA/QRI do not offer tools to support instruction; they simply tell us where our students are in their reading and comprehension levels in relationship to global benchmarks. The Harcourt Reading Program offers teachers the tools they need to address areas identified as needing intervention or additional challenge. Each assessment supports teachers in knowing what tools to use to drive reading instruction; one based on targeted skills within the reading program and one based on global benchmarks to make sure children have acquired the skills to become proficient and independent readers. In summary, all three give us valuable information.
The ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) and the CogAt (Cognitive Abilities Test)
Purpose: The Iowa Test of Basic Skills is a collection of tests in several subject areas. The Cognitive Abilities Test measures abstract reasoning ability.
Rationale: The ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) and the CogAt (Cognitive Abilities Test) are nationally normed Standardized tests. The District uses the results from these tests to get an external look at the performance of students, one that is independent of the school’s own assessments of student learning.
Application: These two tests are given in the fall of the year for grades 2, 4, and 6. Grade 1 only takes the CogAt test.