KU News Service

School of Education to release tools to help schools with universal instruction

Tue, 10/04/2011

LAWRENCE — The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas will release tools to help Kansas schools in their transition to using universal educational content standards, known as the Common Core, as the basis for instruction.

This month, the center will release new formative assessment tools that target selected mathematics concepts and skills described in the Common Core State Standards. The tools contain 350 new formative test items developed by the center’s experts for grades three through high school. The center also expects to include English language arts items in the formative assessment tools by the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

The new formative assessment tools are intended to be used as part of routine instructional activities in which teachers and students work together to actively assess students’ comprehension of related concepts or skills. The formative tools address single lessons and small units of study that target the common core. Teachers are encouraged to use student response data to make appropriate adjustments to instruction day-by-day and week-by-week.

Research studies conducted at KU and elsewhere show that formative assessment can improve student learning.

“These new common core based formative tests address teachers’ need for tools to help them with the transition to the common core based curriculum,” said Center Director Neal Kingston. “With these new formative tests, we expect formative usage in Kansas to increase well beyond the current 2.8 million tests per year currently administered.”

David Barnes, education program consultant for mathematics at the Kansas State Department of Education, also notes the importance of these new assessment tools.

“The formative assessment items developed by CETE are one tool teachers in Kansas can use to help their students go deeper into their understanding of mathematics concepts,” Barnes said. “Coupled with classroom discussions and activities that push students to understand and use critical areas of instruction in a variety of contexts, the CETE formative assessment items can help smooth the instructional transition from our previous standards to the Common Core State Standards.”

The Kansas State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. Following gradual implementation during the next few years, the standards are tentatively scheduled to affect all K-12 state assessments in Kansas by 2015.

“Formative assessments should be an integral part of practice to inform instruction at all times, but particularly as we undertake the transition to Common Core State Standards,” Barnes said.

For more than 30 years, the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation has partnered with the Kansas State Department of Education to deliver a variety of assessment services under the Kansas State Assessment Program, the comprehensive assessment system Kansas schools use to determine whether a student learns the intended curriculum. The center also offers online training resources, practice tests and tutorials to help prepare students and educators for the Kansas assessments.

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