Assessment System Overview
Northbrook School District 27 strives to provide the best educational programs possible and meet the learning needs of every child. The District’s Assessment Program is an important tool to meet this challenge because it helps to monitor students’ learning on an individual and consistent basis.
The Northbrook School District 27 Assessment System serves many purposes including the following:
- Improve student learning.
- Provide ongoing and cumulative data to measure student development and academic achievement.
- Provide a means to evaluate and improve the district’s academic programs.
- Provide meaningful information to parents about the growth and development of their children.
- Hold schools accountable for meeting performance goals.
With a clear understanding of the purposes of assessment, District 27 has developed specific assessment goals. The major goals of the program include the following:
- Measure and evaluate student achievement and growth on a regular basis for the purpose of improving student learning.
- Diagnose students’ needs in order to make informed decisions, choices, and judgments useful in guiding classroom instruction.
- Provide information to place students in appropriate programs that best support their instructional and developmental needs. (e.g., ELP Program, Foreign Language, ESL, Math, Resource, etc.).
- Provide the means to report student academic progress to parents.
- Explain and interpret the Assessment Program to staff, parents, students, Board of Education, and other community groups.
- Meet requirements of the Illinois School Improvement Plan (SIP) and to meet the requirements of the Illinois State Standards.
- Gather longitudinal information to measure and evaluate students’ academic progress over time.
- Determine the effectiveness of the District’s instructional and curricular programs.
The District Assessment System is built on the fundamental belief that there is no single test that adequately profiles a student’s growth and learning. Therefore, the Assessment System identifies and uses a variety of assessment measures. These measures fall into two distinct categories: Standardized Assessments (Formal) and Non-Standardized Assessments (Informal). Each of these assessments has specific and unique purposes.
Standardized assessments, also known as large-scale assessments, are those mandated, designed, conducted, and reported from outside the classroom. They are most frequently used for district or state evaluation, accountability purposes, program improvement, and performance comparisons. Standardized assessments can be further divided into norm-referenced and criterion referenced assessments.
Criterion-referenced assessments enable teachers to make inferences about the level of student performance relative to a specific domain of content. Individual scores are not dependent upon the performance of other students. Criterion-referenced test scores provide information that helps educators determine what content and skills individual students have mastered.
Norm-referenced assessments provide data that allows comparisons with a well-defined norm group. Thus, a student’s score is dependent upon the performance of thousands of students making up the comparison or norm group. Norm-referenced test scores provide information that enables educators to answer two key questions: (1) What is the relative standing of this student across this broad domain of content? and (2) How does the student compare to other similar students (age and grade level)?
In addition to important data at the individual student level, criterion- and norm-referenced assessments provide a source of data to evaluate curriculum and instructional effectiveness at a district level.
District 27 uses several standardized assessments at various grade levels. Below are the four large-scale standardized assessments given across multiple grade levels.
- Terra Nova Standardized Test (Grades 2-8)
- Illinois Assessment of Readiness (Grades 3-8)
- STAR Assessment (Grades 2-5)
- Illinois Learning Renewal Interim Assessment (Grades 6-8)
Non-standardized assessments, also known as classroom assessments, comprise the majority of assessments students will take. They are generally developed by teachers or textbook publishers. They are the primary means teachers use to verify student performance in actual daily classroom situations. Most informal assessments are directly linked to learning the curriculum in each subject area. The information from these assessments guides and informs the teachers' instruction. The assessments also determine how well the students are learning the skills and concepts defined in the curriculum. Adjustments in instruction are made based on these assessments. Finally they are used to determine report card grades (grades 5-8) and designations of learning progress (grades K-4).
A variety of non-standardized, or classroom, assessments used by teachers are listed below:
- Teacher-made tests/quizzes and textbook/publisher tests.
- Curriculum-based tests developed by the teacher, school, or District (Examples: Grade Level Writing Assessments and common assessment in various disciplines).
- Running Records and WRAPS (literacy assessments).
- Daily observation/checklist of student work in the classroom.
- Student projects and other performance-based measures.
- Systematized behavior observations and anecdotal records.
Throughout the school year parents will receive several forms of assessment information. The District will send home individual student performance reports for STAR, LRIA, Terra Nova/InView, and IAR.
Classroom performance and student work will be shared with parents as appropriate. Additionally, teachers communicate regularly through quarterly report cards, parent-teacher conferences, personal calls, newsletters, notes, and the like. It is our commitment to keep all parents apprised of their child's progress and work in a partnership with our parent community to help each child learn as well as possible. We are also committed to maintaining a balanced use of assessment measures. There can be reasonable fear that students are "tested too much." We are highly sensitive to this potential and will only gather assessment data that will provide us with a comprehensive understanding of a child's growth and learning needs, inform our classroom instruction, and keep parents apprised of their child's ongoing progress. If you ever have any questions about your child's work, please feel free to call your classroom teacher, building principal, or the Curriculum Department.