Jordan School District's Literacy Website
"Assessments are not the end of the teaching and learning process, they're the starting point".
Planning a Road Trip: The Need for Interim (Benchmark) Assessments
To use a simple analogy, imagine a road trip. When you check to make sure you have enough gasoline, your tires have enough air, and nothing is going wrong with the motor while you’re driving, you’re doing in-the-moment assessments.
If you do not do these things, you’ll never make it to your destination, so in-the moment assessments are critical! However, if you don’t have a road map, it doesn’t matter how well your car is running: you could be headed to the wrong destination! Interim assessments provide the road map. (Bambrick-Santoyo, 2010)
Some Advantages of Benchmark Assessments:
- Road map for instruction
- Improvement in teaching
- Targeted Focus
- Checking for understanding without teacher support
- Preparing students for high-stakes assessment
Writing the Right Benchmark
Did you know that we have our own team of teacher specialists who have been working diligently to rewrite and revise district ELA benchmarks in grades K-6 over the past year? The first priority in this process was to analyze the quality of the benchmark assessments in relation to our state test. A key step was to line up test items from both assessments, and determine if the benchmark assessments were meeting the rigor of the state assessment. Did the benchmarks have the right content and the right college-ready expectations? Did the questions mirror the rigor, format, design, and question types of the end-goal test?
Here's what they came up with: take a look at page 3 of your grade level’s benchmark 1 teacher pages, found here.
With the benchmark assessment clearly defined, you now have a road map for all the skills and degree of rigor that you need to teach to ensure that your students reach proficiency. Keep referring back to the actual assessment questions while you plan to make sure that every activity sets the students up to succeed at that level of rigor. This isn’t to say that we teach the test itself, but rather, use the elements of the test to prepare learners.
Recommended Deadline for Benchmark 1 is November 1, 2019
Contact the coach at your school before then if you would like to talk about ways to increase rigor, use depth of knowledge, or plan for assessments using backwards design. Your coach is also a useful tool in providing tips and tricks for administering the benchmark.