A Message to IAPSS Members from Dr. Jennifer McCormick

Posted on May 9, 2017

Dr McCormick

Indiana is focused on preparing our students for success beyond K-12. Our state, along with our nation label this preparation college and career readiness. Ensuring such student readiness is a priority of mine and the Indiana Department of Education. One way to measure college and career readiness is with state-mandated assessments. This measurement is a national requirement under the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). For many years, instructional methods have significantly changed and improved, yet our state-mandated assessments have not. With the passage of ESSA and HEA 1003, Indiana is poised to take advantage of much-needed assessment flexibility. As many of you already know, Indiana’s K-12 schools, employers, and institutions of higher education are all calling for and demanding a change in student performance and growth measures. What is needed is an assessment which reflects our students’ progress toward college and career readiness as well as their current levels of preparedness.

To truly prepare students for their future endeavors, we must create individualized instruction based on need. To achieve this type of focused instruction, educators must be provided with the most up-to-date testing tools – tools that provide timely, valid data on student performance and growth. For this reason, Indiana’s future, our future, must include computer adaptive assessments for grades 3-8 and national readiness measures for high school.

In today’s educational landscape, assessment usually reflects two types of assessment design – fixed form and computer adaptive. While fixed form allows for every test taker to receive the same questions, such as Indiana’s current ISTEP+ model and End of Course Assessments (ECAs), computer adaptive allows flexibility for test takers to receive challenge leveled questions adjusted upon students’ individual responses and tested skill-level as they participate in the assessment event. Fixed form design can be administered by paper or computer. But the computer adaptive design requires the use of a computer. In addition, both test designs can ensure alignment to Indiana standards.

The adaptability foundational to the computer adaptive design allows us to create an important component of computer adaptive assessments – the blueprint. The blueprint is the term used to describe the overall content and formulation of the test and can be designed by us as a state. The blueprint provides an early guide for each educator and student as to the number of writing items, mathematics problems, and English and Language Arts questions the assessment will contain. With involvement from you and fellow stakeholders, we will create a blueprint that reflects the needs of Hoosier students while allowing a unique event for each individual student.

The actual test-taking itself is only one part of the assessment process. Reading, understanding, and responding to student, school, and district assessment results should culminate in targeted curricular and instructional changes and improvements focused on student success. With the individualized results we receive from a computer adaptive assessment, you will be able to differentiate instruction in order to address each student’s needs which provides all students the opportunity for growth. Aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment creates an approach to directly address the needs of Indiana students.

Education is quickly evolving; thus, it is time we took a large step forward in state-mandated testing innovation. The computer adaptive assessment design makes this shift possible through utilizing quality assessment items aligned to rigorous college and career readiness standards. Many of our classrooms now have the technological capacity to make it happen. However, we must continue to monitor and fund our schools’ broadband capacities in order to ensure our students have the opportunity to participate in such 21st Century assessment design. Such an important funding commitment will also benefit Hoosier schools’ work in the area of curriculum and instructional delivery. Without question, Indiana’s educational future must include computer adaptive assessments, and I will work tirelessly to make it a success for you and your students.