Home > Uncategorized > Benchmarks and Testlets and Pilots, oh my!

Benchmarks and Testlets and Pilots, oh my!

February 11, 2014

It was bound to happen. Once Measured Progress won the right to administer our 3-8 Reading* and Math tests, you knew they had to do something to pad their profit. In emails across the state today:

We at Measured Progress are honored to have been chosen by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to serve as assessment partner for the Oklahoma College and Career Readiness Assessment (OCCRA). The OCCRA will reflect the learning expectations articulated by Oklahoma’s new state academic standards.

Since the award was announced we have heard from many Oklahoma district administrators who are looking for assessments comparable in rigor and depth to that of the new academic standards. We are pleased to offer Measured Progress COMMON CORETM Assessments–a suite of testing tools specifically designed for use in the classroom and available now. While we are aware that Oklahoma has developed state-specific academic standards, we also know that the two sets of standards are parallel in rigor.

To be clear, the COMMON CORE Assessments are not predictors of student performance on the OCCRA or any other high-stakes test. Rather, they are formative assessment instruments that provide teachers with data to inform and adjust instruction. They also offer students the opportunity to take assessments similar in quality and depth to that of the new state assessment.

COMMON CORE Assessments include:

  • Benchmarks–tests that can be administered four times a year to give teachers valuable feedback about students’ grasp of the standards
  • Testlets–short, targeted quizzes that cover key standards and help teachers focus instruction
  • Item Bank–selected-response, short-answer, and constructed-response items that enable teachers to build their own classroom assessments

The Measured Progress COMMON CORE Assessments are delivered on a platform provided by our technology partner, eMetric, giving students the chance to take classroom tests on an interface virtually identical to what they’ll see on the state assessment. We are also preparing to pilot with districts a new generation of science assessments, as well as curriculum-embedded performance assessments–both built to reflect the state of the art in technology and content quality.

I will be calling you in the next couple of weeks to explore how we might help you make your local assessment program more effective and informative. In the meantime, please visit our website to learn more about the Measured Progress COMMON CORE Assessments. And if you are interested in participating in our science pilot, please visit our website or send an e-mail to our Product Management Group.

I want to see a show of hands. Which of you Oklahoma administrators have been pestering these poor people over the last three months? Let them breathe already! They’ve been busy preparing field tests item tryouts for our students to take after they’ve taken their real tests. If they don’t opt out that is. Because that would be wrong.

It sounds like Measured Progress is ready to provide something that schools are getting right now from Acuity for free. I just wonder at what cost. And they can’t say this strongly enough, but the benchmark test is no predictor for what will become OCCRA.

I am still giggling every time I say or read that. I have no plans to stop.

The kicker comes in the last sentence – the science pilot. Funny – I don’t think Measured Progress is our testing vendor for science. What’s that about, you ask?

Why Participate?

  • Students will get exposure to more rigorous science content likely to be seen in future Next Generation Science (NGSS) curriculum and assessments— through testlets and curriculum-embedded performance tasks.
  • Educators can evaluate the rigor of these new items and determine how well items helped them assess student understanding of the NGSS.
  • Feedback from students and educators will help inform the development of standards-based science assessments at Measured Progress.

What will my district pilot?

  • Districts can choose to pilot short pre-configured testlets and/or curriculum-embedded performance tasks.
  • Testlets are a collection of items that include five to seven items and cover grades 3-8, targeting specific Performance Expectations from NGSS.

What will be expected of educators and students in my district?

  • Curriculum-embedded performance assessments cover science content in grades 6-8; districts can also pilot an integrated math, ELA, and science task designed for fifth graders. 

  • All administrators must sign a non-disclosure agreement.

  • Pilot assessment materials will be administered between February and mid-May of this school year.

  • Educators will use available rubrics to evaluate student work and return completed student work to Measured Progress by June 1, 2014.

  • Participants will take part in an online training, which goes over administration, scoring, and how to complete the feedback survey.

But Oklahoma didn’t adopt the NGSS – we have OASS. It’s totally different! Besides, this is just an opportunity to sample their wares – not their instructional materials, but their test items. It’s not a field test. It’s not even an official item tryout. It’s a pilot. They’ve found another thing to call subjecting our students to tests that have no meaning. The creativity of these people will never end!

Keep in mind the benefit to us as educators is only that we get to see assessment items that may align to the new science standards, even though the state has not yet begun the process of selecting a vendor for those assessments. There’s no training over the standards themselves or how to improve instruction. This will absolutely be testing for its own sake. The testing company will benefit. Schools will not.

Welcome to the testing mélange, Measured Progress. You’re gonna fit in pretty well around here.


*It’s not all reading. It never is.

  1. Rob miller
    February 11, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Another pilot test for our students? Where do I sign up? We would love to have another opportunity to not opt out;)


  2. Mary Boren
    February 11, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Testlet. Connotates insignificant harmless little appendage tests.


  3. Fred
    February 12, 2014 at 9:16 am

    What I want to say in my native Brookynese is not socially acceptable. yes I’ll start using those testlets right after tomorrows little Acuity test that is taking away an entire morning.


  4. February 12, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I would love full disclosure on the “many Oklahoma Administrators” who are knocking on their door for more tests. Just so I could chat with all 5 of them…

    And “formative assessment instruments that provide teachers with data to inform and adjust instruction.” Isn’t this what teachers go to college to learn, how to assess and adjust instruction in their classroom? I wish we could strengthen our common ed/higher ed relationships and communication and bring back and extend the first year teacher mentorship programs. We don’t need testlets. We need to let teachers teach.


  5. MarshDawg
    February 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Insanity. Will the madness ever end? Does anyone around here remember the days when teaching and learning were actually taking place inside our schools?


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