Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System

The Delaware Department of Education announced last month agreements with the American Institutes for Research to develop a new computer-adaptive Comprehensive Assessment System, including summative assessments of reading and math in grades 3-8; end-of-course exams for English, math, and science; and formative assessments in reading and math for grades 2-10. The assessments for all grade levels will be on a common scale for longitudinal study of students' learning growth over time. The press release suggests a very rapid development time-table: AIR is to pilot test the system this spring for full operation next Fall! Developing such a large item bank, as well as all of the associated computer software (perhaps AIR already has the delivery system in place), and ensuring the technical adequacy in all schools (which is, I suppose, a bit easier given Delaware's size) seems to be a tall order for a single year. If Delaware can pull it off, DCAS will be a major step forward for state-wide student assessment that is timely, efficient, and relevant for local instructional decisions. In an informal survey I completed two years ago, only a few states were experimenting with computer-based testing, and those that had operational systems were using them mainly only for end-of-course examinations. Oregon was using a computer-adaptive test for a while, but gave it up for a reason that escapes me at the moment (it may have been pressure from the US ED). In any case, I look forward to seeing what Delaware achieves, and hope the "First State" can serve as a model for twenty-first century student assessment.

No comments: