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Explaining N.D. State Assessment Results

By Staff | Oct 31, 2015

This week the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction released the results from the new North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA). All public school students are required to take the test in grades three through eight and 11th grade. Students throughout the state took this test last spring and we are just now receiving the results. This is the first measurement of the newly implemented Common Core standards. The new NDSA has been dubbed a next generation test. The test has been developed to measure more than just rote knowledge. It includes performance tasks and is completely online.

Early results from other states showed substantial decreases in performance levels of students. North Dakota scores indicate a decrease as well. On October 27, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) released proficiency levels, 46% were proficient in English and 40% were proficient in mathematics. At Rugby Public School District, 44% of our students were proficient in English and 43% were proficient in Math. This year’s scores should be viewed as a baseline set of data.

I have a few concerns with the release of this data. Last year many schools experienced difficulties administering the test. In Rugby, close to half of our fourth grade English data has not been published. During the testing window a few grade levels had to retake the entire test due to errors. We also experienced testing errors throughout the process. It was very clear that the test was not ready to administer last year. Due to the issues mentioned above I personally question the validity of this data. According to the news release from NDDPI not all tests have been scored at this point. It is unclear why NDDPI would rush to release proficiency scores when they could change.

The data from the NDSA are one many components we use to measure our effectiveness. We prefer our own locally developed assessments, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), and the ACT. Teachers use their collaboration time to develop assessments that provide important data that is used to improve instruction. We continue to administer MAP assessments two times a year and we believe these assessments are much more reliable and easy to administer. The ACT is administered once a year for the junior class and this data is used to measure college and career readiness. I am hopeful that our NDSA testing experience will be better this year and that we don’t panic due to these initial scores.

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