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Part 2: Four Reasons to Build Your Own Assessment

Feb 19, 2013

David Kierski, an OnHand Schools senior level consultant, is writing a blog series about developing for your district a transition road map to the common core standards.

In the last post we discussed the transition from your old state standards to the new Common Core standards. We mentioned that a particularly difficult area of this transition could be K-12 assessments. It takes a while for states to roll out their own, and these are usually year-end standardized K-12 assessments, leaving teachers scratching their heads about what to do to measure their students' progress mid-year.

Test Taking Cartoon

Here are four reasons why we believe quality teachers and districts should make tests of their own:

1. No one knows your students like you do.

You spend all year with your students. You know where they struggle, and you know what material they breeze through. It just doesn't make sense to let some giant company located in another state make generic tests for your students. If you make your own tests, you can create questions and responses that truly target the most important areas, making sure your district has a clear picture of your students' progress.

2. It's the best way you can understand the standards transition.

Ever heard of "reverse engineering"? Let's say you wanted to understand how a car works. You could read a book about a car, which might give you a general understanding of the principles behind internal combustion, or you could take one apart and see how all the parts fit together.

It's the same with the Common Core: what better way to understand the new standards than to make your own Common Core-based test? Armed with a good crosswalk, you'll be able to see which of the old eligible content matches, and which doesn't. You'll be able to see how all the parts fit (or don't).

3. Administration to understanding is quicker.

What busy teacher has time to wait for the results of an assessment, try to figure out what each question was testing, and then try to understand what the student assessment data is saying? If you make your own tests, you are more familiar with the content, so there is no wasted time in deciphering which question is testing what.

Also, with a good benchmark assessment and data warehouse system like the EdInsight Instructional Management System, a teacher can begin analyzing the student assessment data almost instantly, without spending precious time trying to visualize and decipher it all.

4. You have control

Have you ever been accused of being a back seat driver? It just feels better to be the one driving. In the end, you and your district will be responsible for your students' progress, and no one else. So don't rely on some big company to make tests for you: put yourself in the driver's seat and start making your own tests.

The EdInsight IMS is a powerful tool that allows teachers and districts to build and administer their own custom assessments, and then instantly visualize the results to help make the best decisions. Start down the path to better performance today.



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