New assessment and data management solutions for schools

Here are some of the latest innovations in assessment and data management for schools.

With a strong federal focus on assessment and accountability in education, many ed-tech companies have released new products designed to help educators test their students’ understanding and track progress toward meeting state and federal benchmarks. Here are some of the latest innovations in assessment and data management for schools.

More than 500 school systems have been using CTB/McGraw-Hill’s Acuity product to assess students in grades 3-8 in the subjects of reading, math, and science. With Acuity, educators can administer predictive, diagnostic, and formative assessments to students online, with a pencil and paper, or via student response systems. The Acuity software helps educators analyze students’ progress, identify strengths and weaknesses, and target instruction more appropriately.

Now, the company has released a version of Acuity intended for high schools as well. Acuity for High School covers English and math (Algebra I, II, and Geometry) and is one of the first high school assessment products aligned with the Common Core State Standards that more than 40 states have adopted.

Teachers can use the software’s prebuilt diagnostic assessments or build tests according to the scope and sequence of their own curriculum, using an item bank of questions aligned with the Common Core standards.

CTB/McGraw-Hill said it created this item bank “from the ground up,” with the Common Core standards in mind, rather than recycling old questions. The result is a repository of questions that move away from an emphasis on multiple choice to include writing prompts, technology-based assessment, and performance-based items, the company said.

CTB also has released a version of its Acuity product for grades 3-8 that is aligned with the Common Core standards. The difference is that this product wasn’t designed from the ground up, the company says, but instead uses some old assessment items along with new questions designed around the Common Core standards.

Another announcement from CTB/McGraw-Hill could save schools a tremendous amount of time in testing their students’ English language proficiency.

Until now, educators using the company’s LAS Links assessment had to sit with each student individually to gauge his or her proficiency with oral and written English skills. This process could take teachers up to a half hour for each child. But starting this fall, LAS Links will be available for students to take online—all at once, or individually at the student’s convenience.

The new online version of LAS Links captures students’ spoken and written responses electronically, so teachers no longer have to sit with each child as he or she takes the test. This also results in a standardized, more comfortable testing environment that could help students do their best, the company says.

LAS Links Online gives teachers immediate feedback through informative diagnostic reports, so students can be given the supports they need in a more timely way. The program is available for grades 2-12 now, with a K-1 release to follow.

Another product that could reduce the amount of time educators spend on assessment, although it isn’t new, is Lexia Learning’s Lexia Reading.

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