April 23, 2014

By Shannan Statz, Former Director & Principal

Change is sweeping K-12 assessment. Many teachers are evaluated against summative test outcomes. Students are expected to step up to the higher bar of Common Core and state standards. Districts are taking ownership of assessment tools, striving to scaffold teacher success with standardization. The Consortia are expanding the use of technology-enhanced items into high-stakes testing. Digital is supplanting physical.

In the midst of all this change, teachers are making heroic efforts to keep their eyes fixed on their primary mission: educating students. That’s the true measure of an assessment’s value: what insights does it provide to improve instruction? How does the data help educators to improve student outcomes? How does it enhance teacher effectiveness?

Research shows that assessment literacy and the effective use of formative assessment has the highest correlation to teacher effectiveness. Surprised?

For years, formative and summative assessment lived in silos, but districts are looking to move from diagnostic to prescriptive, from judgment to action-ability. DACs and SACs want to transcend simple measurement, using formative assessment to actually drive growth.

Renaissance’s Star Assessments have kept pace with the need for universal screening, progress monitoring, and growth measurement. And today we are taking a big step forward with the introduction of Renaissance Star Custom®.

Star Custom is a completely new way to do formative assessment. It’s built right into Star and allows educators to probe for mastery of targeted skills within math, English language arts, and science. Star Custom includes an enormous bank of tools that make it easier to craft fixed-form assessments. Educators can now pinpoint mastery of individual standards and assess specific skills.

This is a major extension of Star, and it is truly helping to bridge the actionable insights of Star to specific CCSS, State Standards, and learning progression skills.

Here’s how it works:

First, Star guides a probe for specific standards and skills based on Star scores and the Core Progress learning progression. Educators are then able to select CCSS-aligned items from an enormous bank of options, and can seamlessly assign the newly created tests to the appropriate students. Then Star Custom immediately delivers insight into depth of mastery via in-depth skills-specific reports.

To quote Gene Kerns, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at Renaissance, “Formative assessment post-CCSS is much the same as pre-CCSS.” However, if testing to teach is a time-tested tool, the Common Core means all forms of formative assessment must be aligned to a standards-based curriculum. That’s why Core Progress is central to Star Custom. Teachers will find and build assessments using the new Core Progress Navigator, and item authors can associate their work to skills and standards via the Navigator.

Core Progress is a sturdy researched-based bridge between Star Assessments and Star Custom, enabling teachers to employ Renaissance’s full spectrum of formative tools as a psychometrically integrated suite.

Over the coming months, the new Star Custom will make its way into K12 classrooms across the country, bringing the power of a single, indispensable formative assessment tool to educators nationwide. We’re extremely proud of Star Custom, because it has the potential to improve educator effectiveness and student outcomes like never before.

As always, thank you for all you do to keep the focus on educating our students.

Explore Renaissance Star 360® and importance of Star Custom.

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