Friday, October 2, 2015

Janesville Moves to STAR Assessments

GUEST BLOGGER:  Amy Sheridan
Coordinator for Talented and Gifted, Assessment, Elementary Math

In an effort to support instruction in Reading and Math, the School District of Janesville has moved to the STAR Assessment by Renaissance Learning.  Beginning this fall, all students in kindergarten through tenth grade will be assessed three times per year in Early Literacy/Reading and Math.  Using the same assessment system across all levels will allow schools to use comparable data to monitor student progress from elementary through high school.  This will be especially helpful during transition years when students move from elementary to middle school, and from middle school to high school.

The STAR Assessment serves as a universal screening and progress monitoring tool, which means that teachers can set goals for students, and continue to monitor student progress between screening windows. The STAR Assessment also connects teachers to a library of lessons and activities that are Common Core aligned, and also connected to student’s suggested skills determined by individual results. This is a great asset to teachers who are differentiating and personalizing student learning.

By screening students three times per year, the program will generate a Student Growth Percentile (SGP) for each student.  The SGP helps teachers and schools determine if students are growing at adequate rates by comparing the growth in achievement of students across the United States.  For example, if a student receives a SGP of 70, that means the student grew more than 70% of students in the United States that started at the same grade and skill level as the student.  The School District of Janesville has also incorporated the SGP into the student achievement goals.

STAR assessments are computer adaptive, allowing for the assessment to adjust to each student’s unique responses, meaning the computer program adjusts the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment.  Computer adaptive assessments provide an individually tailored experience for students, quickly identifying skills the students have mastered. Computer adaptive assessments are also extremely efficient; students spend less time testing, allowing for more time to be devoted to learning in the classroom.

The first screening window has been smooth sailing, and we are looking forward to seeing the positive impact STAR will have toward documenting our students' achievement.

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