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Assessment & Testing Terms

There are several glossaries available online that define the language of assessment and testing. Most definitions in this paper were written by others; in these cases, the source of the definition is given. Definitions not followed by an online source were written by the author. Definitions that are central to understanding assessment and testing in Wisconsin are marked with an asterisk.

Accommodations: Changes in the administration of an assessment [for a child with disabilities], such as setting, scheduling, timing, presentation format, response mode, or others, including any combination of these that does not change the construct intended to be measured by the assessment or the meaning of the resulting scores. Accommodations are used for equity, not advantage, and serve to level the playing field. To be appropriate, assessment accommodations must be identified in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 plan and used regularly during instruction and classroom assessment (Glossary of Assessment Terms and Acronyms).

Accountability (Accountability System): The demand by a community (public officials, employers, and taxpayers) for school officials to prove that money invested in education has led to measurable learning. "Accountability testing" is an attempt to sample what students have learned, or how well teachers have taught, and/or the effectiveness of a school's principal's performance as an instructional leader. School budgets and personnel promotions, compensation, and awards may be affected (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Action Research: School and classroom-based studies initiated and conducted by teachers and other school staff. Action research involves teachers, aides, principals, and other school staff as researchers who systematically reflect on their teaching or other work and collect data that will answer their questions. It offers staff an opportunity to explore issues of interest to them in an effort to improve classroom instruction and educational effectiveness (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Alignment: The “No Child Left Behind” law requires that states align their assessment programs with their state’s academic standards (which define what students should know and be able to do). Supporters of alignment maintain that student learning is enhanced when there is alignment among curriculum, instruction, and assessment. An important question to address in any discussion of alignment is how much alignment is enough?

Alternate Assessment: Alternate assessments measure the performance of a relatively small population of students who are unable to participate in the general assessment system, with or without accommodations as determined by the IEP Team (Glossary of Assessment Terms and Acronyms ).

American College Test (ACT): The ACT is a college admissions exam used primarily by Midwest and southern colleges. The test consists of four sections--English, Math, Reading, and Science--and an optional Writing section. Test lengths vary (English—45 minutes, Mathematics—60 minutes, Reading –35 minutes, Science –35 minutes; and Writing (optional)—30 minutes. Students are given a score of 1-36 on each of the four required sections. The average of these scores is then calculated and rounded to the nearest whole number. This is referred to as the "composite ACT score." The essay is not included in the composite score.

Assessment Literacy: The possession of knowledge about the basic principles of sound assessment practice, including terminology, the development and use of assessment methodologies and techniques, familiarity with standards of quality in assessment. Increasingly, [it includes] familiarity with alternatives to traditional measurements of learning (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Authentic Assessment: (1) An assessment that requires students to generate a response to a question rather than choose from a set of responses provided to them. Exhibitions, investigations, demonstrations, written or oral responses, journals, and portfolios are examples of the assessment alternatives we think of when we use the term "alternative assessment." Ideally, alternative assessment requires students to actively accomplish complex and significant tasks, while bringing to bear prior knowledge, recent learning, and relevant skills to solve realistic or authentic problems (Glossary of Useful Terms).

(2) Evaluating by asking for the behavior the learning is intended to produce. The concept of model, practice, feedback in which students know what excellent performance is and are guided to practice an entire concept rather than bits and pieces in preparation for eventual understanding. A variety of techniques can be employed in authentic assessment.

The goal of authentic assessment is to gather evidence that students can use knowledge effectively and be able to critique their own efforts. Authentic tests can be viewed as "assessments of enablement," in Robert Glaser's words, ideally mirroring and measuring student performance in a "real-world" context. Tasks used in authentic assessment are meaningful and valuable, and are part of the learning process (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Cohort: A group whose progress is followed by means of measurements at different points in time (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Competency Test: A test intended to [determine whether or not] a student has met established minimum standards of skills and knowledge and is thus eligible for promotion, graduation, certification, or other official acknowledgment of achievement (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

*Constructed Response Item: An exercise for which examinees must create their own responses or products (performance assessment) rather than choose a response from an enumerated set (multiple choice) (Glossary of Useful Terms). [Examples of constructed response items are written answers to questions or writing prompts].

Constructivist Theory: Constructivist theory . . . posits that people build new information onto pre-existing notions and modify their understanding in light of new data. In the process, their ideas gain in complexity and power. Constructivist theorists dismiss the idea that students learn by absorbing information through lectures or repeated rote practice. [Instead, students are taught to] . . . create their own meaning and achieve their own goals by interacting actively with objects and information and by linking new materials to existing cognitive structures (Glossary of Useful Terms).

*Cut Score: A specified point on a score scale, such that scores at or above that point are interpreted or acted upon differently from scores below that point (Glossary of Useful Terms). [On Wisconsin’s Knowledge & Concepts Examinations cut scores separate the four levels of performance from one another: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, and Minimal].

*Criterion-Referenced Test (CRT): A test in which the results can be [are] used to determine a student's progress toward mastery of a content area. [Each student’s] performance is compared to an expected level of mastery in a content area rather than to other students' scores. . . The "criterion" is the standard of performance established as the passing score for the test. Scores have meaning in terms of what the student knows or can do, rather than how the test-taker compares to a reference or norm group. Criterion-referenced tests can have norms, but comparison to a norm is not the purpose of the assessment (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms). [Wisconsin’s Knowledge & Concepts examinations are criterion-referenced. Students’ scores are reported as performance levels, ranging from Advanced to Minimal].

*English Language Learner (ELL): In Wisconsin, English language learners who are beginning to acquire English language proficiency, meaning that they have been identified as having an English language proficiency level of 1 or 2, must be assessed with WAA-ELL (Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for English Language Learners). ELLs with an English language proficiency level of 3 or above must participate in the regular WKCE-CRT (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).

*ESEA: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was first enacted in 1965. This act’s foundational principle of providing educational opportunities to our most disadvantaged youth has remained strong. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), a major reform of the ESEA, was passed by congress and signed into law on January 8, 2002. NCLB redefines the federal role in K-12 education and will help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers. NCLB encompasses numerous programs across ten titles, totaling approximately $22 billion in 2004-05. Wisconsin's total funding amount for 2004-05 under NCLB is approximately $292 million, consisting of 20 different programs, 14 of which have been approved for funding by the U.S. Department of Education (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).

High Stakes Testing: Any testing program whose results have important consequences for students, teachers, schools, and/or districts. Such stakes may include promotion, certification, graduation, or denial/approval of services and opportunity. High stakes testing can corrupt the evaluation process when pressure to produce rising test scores results in "teaching to the test" or making tests less complex (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Holistic Scoring: In assessment, assigning a single score based on an overall assessment of performance rather than by scoring or analyzing dimensions individually. The product is considered to be more than the sum of its parts and so the quality of a final product or performance is evaluated rather than the process or dimension of performance. A holistic scoring rubric might combine a number of elements on a single scale. Focused holistic scoring may be used to evaluate a limited portion of a learner's performance (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Individualized Education Program (IEP): A document that reflects the decisions made by an interdisciplinary team, including the parent and the student when appropriate. During an IEP meeting for a student with a disability (SWD), the team will identify the student’s abilities and disabilities (Glossary of Assessment Terms and Acronyms ).

Individuals with Disabilities Act: See Students with Disabilities

Inter-rater Reliability: The consistency with which two or more judges rate the work or performance of test takers. Inter-rater reliability is used when constructed responses [such as a written essay] are judged by two or more judges who differ in scores awarded (Glossary of Useful Terms).

Longitudinal Measurement: The comparison of measurements of the same groups of students collected at two or more points in time (Glossary of Assessment Terms and Acronyms Used in Assessing Special Education Students).

*No Child Left Behind (NCLB): The 2001 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), often called the “No Child Left Behind” law, requires increased testing, along with sanctions for schools whose students do not meet specific targets. Beginning in 2005-06, Wisconsin’s students had to be tested annually in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8, and once in high school. Beginning in 2007-08, testing also is required in science at least once in elementary school (4th grade), middle school (8th grade), and high school (10th grade). Participation in testing by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) also is required. [See discussion under AYP, ESEA, and NAEP).

Mean: One of several ways of representing a group with a single, typical score. It is figured by adding up all the individual scores in a group and dividing them by the number of people in the group. [The mean] can be affected by extremely low or high scores (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Median: When the numbers in some set (such as tests scores of students in a class) are arranged in rank order, the median divides the scores into two equal subgroups (one-half of scores above and one-half below).

Mode: The mode is the most frequently occurring value in a data set. For example, suppose a class of students is tested and the mode is 70%. This tells us that 70% is the score reported by most students. Note that a data set may have several modes.

Norm-Referenced Test (NRT): A test in which a student or a group's performance is compared to that of a norm group. [Scores on norm-referenced tests are reported as percentiles; a student with a percentile score of 70 scored higher than 70% of the students who were in the norm group]. Often used to measure and compare students, schools, districts, and states on the basis of norm-established scales of achievement (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms). Also see Percentile Rank.

Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE): The NCE, measures where a student falls along the normal distribution (ranging from 1 to 99). Unlike percentile ranks, NCE scores can be averaged. [NCEs can be used] to compare different tests for the same student or group of students and between different students on the same test. For those who want more technical detail: an NCE is a normalized test score with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 21.06. NCEs should be used instead of percentiles for comparative purposes. Required by many categorical funding agencies, e.g., Chapter I or Title I (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Normal Curve: The numbers in some collection or data set (for example test scores of 100 students) are normally distributed if they are in the shape of a bell-shaped curve. In a normal distribution, the curve is symmetrical in shape, with most values in the center and fewer on either side. In a normal distribution the mean, median, and mode are the same. When data are normally distributed, 68% of numbers will be within one standard deviation of the mean. Ninety-five percent will be plus or minus 2 standard deviations, while 99% will fall within 3 standard deviations. [Also see Normal Curve Equivalent and Standard Deviation].

Opportunity to Learn: In terms of testing, opportunity to learn means that before a student is tested, he or she is given adequate and timely instruction of the knowledge and skills measured by a test.

Percent Correct: When the raw score is divided by the total number of questions and the result is multiplied by 100, the percent-correct score is obtained. Like raw scores, percent-correct scores have little meaning by themselves. They tell what percent of the questions a student got right on a test, but unless we know something about the overall difficulty of the test, this information is not very helpful (Iowa Testing Programs).

*Percentile Rank: A student's percentile rank is a score that tells the percent of students in a particular group that got lower raw scores on a test than the student did. It shows the student's relative position or rank in a group of students who are in the same grade and who were tested at the same time of year (fall, midyear, or spring) as the student. Thus, for example, if Toni earned a percentile rank of 72 on the Language test, it means that she scored higher than 72 percent of the students in the group with which she is being compared. Of course, it also means that 28 percent of the group scored higher than Toni. Percentile ranks range from 1 to 99.

A student's percentile rank can vary depending on which group is used to determine the ranking. A student is simultaneously a member of many different groups: all students in her classroom, her building, her school district, her state, and the nation (Iowa Testing Programs).

Performance Assessment: Performance assessment is a form of testing that requires students to perform a task rather than select an answer from a ready-made list [e.g., multiple choice, true-false, matching, etc.]. Performance assessment is an activity that requires students to construct a response, create a product, or perform a demonstration. Usually there are multiple ways that an examinee can approach a performance assessment and more than one correct answer (Glossary of Useful Terms).

*Performance Standards: 1. A statement or description of a set of operational tasks exemplifying a level of performance associated with a more general content standard; the statement may be used to guide judgments about the location of a cut score on a score scale; the term often implies a desired level of performance. 2. Explicit definitions of what students must do to demonstrate proficiency at a specific level on the content standards . . . (Glossary of Useful Terms). [The Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Examinations have four levels of performance, ranging from minimal to advanced].

Portfolio: A systematic and organized collection of a student's work that exhibits to others the direct evidence of a student's efforts, achievements, and progress over a period of time. The collection should involve the student in selection of its contents, and should include information about the performance criteria, the rubric or criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection or evaluation. It should include representative work, providing a documentation of the learner's performance and a basis for evaluation of the student's progress. Portfolios may include a variety of demonstrations of learning and have been gathered in the form of a physical collection of materials, videos, CD-ROMs, reflective journals, etc. (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Portfolio Assessment: Portfolios may be assessed in a variety of ways. Each piece may be individually scored, or the portfolio might be assessed merely for the presence of required pieces, or a holistic scoring process might be used and an evaluation made on the basis of an overall impression of the student's collected work. It is common that assessors work together to establish consensus of standards or to ensure greater reliability in evaluation of student work. Established criteria are often used by reviewers and students involved in the process of evaluating progress and achievement of objectives (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

Primary Trait Scoring: A type of rubric scoring constructed to assess a specific trait, skill, behavior, or format, or the evaluation of the primary impact of a learning process on a designated audience (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms).

*Proficiency Scores: Students’ scores on the Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Examinations (WKCE) are reported as percentiles, scale scores, and proficiency levels. There are four proficiency levels (also referred to as performance levels):

  • Advanced: in-depth understanding of knowledge and skills in the content area.
  • Proficient: a competent level of achievement.
  • Basic: some weaknesses that should be addressed. Basic does not mean the child is failing in the content area.
  • Minimal Performance: limited academic knowledge and skills in the area tested.

A proficiency score answers the question, “How does the achievement of my child on this test compare with established expectations for academic success?” Wisconsin’s proficiency levels were set in February of 2003 by a group of 240 citizens, including educators, government leaders, and representatives of business and labor. It took them three days to set the standards on all the tests. [Also see Performance Standards].

Raw Score: The number of questions a student gets right on a test is the student's raw score (assuming each question is worth one point). By itself, a raw score has little or no meaning. The meaning depends on how many questions are on the test and how hard or easy the questions are. For example, if Kati got 10 right on both a math test and a science test, it would not be reasonable to conclude that her level of achievement in the two areas is the same. This illustrates why raw scores are usually converted to other types of scores for interpretation purposes (Iowa Testing Programs).

Reliability: [Reliability tells us] the degree to which the results of an assessment are dependable and consistently measure particular student knowledge and/or skills. Reliability is an indication of the consistency of scores across raters, over time, or across different tasks or items that measure the same thing. Thus, reliability may be expressed as (a) the relationship between test items intended to measure the same skill or knowledge (item reliability), (b) the relationship between two administrations of the same test to the same student or students (test/retest reliability), or (c) the degree of agreement between two or more raters (rater reliability). An unreliable assessment cannot be valid (Glossary of Useful Terms). [Also see Inter-rater Reliability].

*Safe Harbor: The State, school districts, schools, and each subgroup of 40 or more students [50 for students with disabilities in Wisconsin] must reach the performance targets for increasing proficiency in reading and math to make AYP. However, there is an exception to that requirement. The State, school districts and schools may still make AYP if each subgroup that fails to reach its proficiency performance targets reduces its percentage of students not meeting standards by 10% of the previous year's percentage, plus the subgroup must meet the attendance rate or graduation rate targets (Illinois State Board of Education)

Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT): The Scholastic Achievement Test is taken by high school students for admission to many undergraduate college programs. The SAT measures a student’s knowledge and skills in Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800, meaning that the composite score ranges from 600 to 2,400.

*Scale Scores: These are test scores based on a scale ranging from 001 to 999. Scale scores are useful in comparing performance in one subject area across classes, schools, districts, and other large populations, especially in monitoring change over time. Scores on the Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Examinations are reported as scale scores (also as percentiles and performance levels). A scale score on a test is similar to the score given in certain sports such as skating and diving. For example, in figure skating, a participant’s score typically is based on two factors—the degree of difficulty and the quality of the performance.

On the state tests, a child’s score is based primarily on the number of difficulty of questions answered correctly. Because challenging test questions are given more “weight,” two students both could answer 25 questions correctly yet end up with different scale scores. This is because one student could have answered 25 relatively “easy” questions, while the second student might have answered some very difficult questions along with those that are less difficult. By knowing a student’s score in any of the subjects tested, you can tell if he or she scored at the lower, middle, or upper ends of the scale. The higher your child’s scale score, the better he or she did on the test.

Scale scores on Wisconsin’s tests can be used to measure progress in the same subject area over time. However, because each subject has its own scale, the scores in different subjects don’t have the same meaning.

Scoring Rubric: Specific sets of criteria that clearly define for both student and teacher what a range of acceptable and unacceptable performance looks like. Criteria define descriptors of ability at each level of performance and assign values to each level. Levels referred to are proficiency levels which describe a continuum from excellent to unacceptable product (Glossary of Useful Terms).

*Selected Response Item: This is an exercise in which examinees must choose a response from an enumerated set [multiple choice, true false, matching] rather than create their own responses or products (e.g., performance assessment such as a written response to a question) (Glossary of Useful Terms).

Standard Error of Measurement (SEM): Whenever a student is tested, the score he or she receives (the observed score) is said to be an estimate of a student’s “true score” (what the student really knows and is able to do). Suppose that a student receives a test score of 75 with a standard error of measurement of 4. This tells us that the student’s true score falls between 71 and 79 (one SEM below and one SEM above the observed score. The Standard Error of Measurement reminds us that any test score is an estimate of what a student knows and is able to do.

Standardization: A consistent set of procedures for designing, administering, and scoring an assessment. The purpose of standardization is to assure that all students are assessed under the same conditions so that their scores have the same meaning and are not influenced by differing conditions. Standardized procedures are very important when scores will be used to compare individuals or groups (Glossary of Useful Terms).

*Standardized Achievement Test: An objective test that is given and scored in a uniform manner. Standardized tests are carefully constructed and items are selected after trials for appropriateness and difficulty. Tests are issued with a manual giving complete guidelines for administration and scoring. The guidelines attempt to eliminate extraneous interference that might influence test results. Scores are often are often norm-referenced. (They can be criterion-referenced also). A test designed to be given under specified, standard conditions to obtain a sample of learner behavior that can be used to make inferences about the learner's ability. Standardized testing allows results to be compared statistically to a standard such as a norm or criteria. If the test is not administered according to the standard conditions, the results are invalid (Assessment Terminology: A Glossary of Useful Terms). [Also see standardization].

Standard Deviation: Standard deviation is a measure of how spread out, or bunched together, the numbers are in some data set. For example, if test scores are bunched close together (meaning all students score about the same), the standard deviation will be small. Conversely, if the data points are spread out (meaning that many are far from the mean), then the standard deviation will be large. In this example, small and large are relative terms.

For purposes of illustration, let’s assume that a group of students is tested and that the scores are normally distributed with a mean of 77 and a standard deviation of 5. When the data points in a set are normally distributed, approximately two-thirds of the scores (68%) are plus or minus one standard deviation from the mean. In this example, we can say that two thirds of students had a test score between 72% and 82% correct (+/- 1 standard deviation (5%). Two standard deviations away from the mean (67% - 87%) account for approximately 95% of scores, while three standard deviations (62% - 92%). account for 99%. [Also see Normal Curve].

*Student with Disabilities: In the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a student with disabilities is defined as “a child evaluated in accordance with §§300.530-300.536 as having mental retardation, a hearing impairment including deafness, a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment including blindness, serious emotional disturbance (hereafter referred to as emotional disturbance),an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.” Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 includes the following definitions: j)Handicapped person – (1)Handicapped person means any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities,(ii) has a record of such an impairment, or (iii)is regarded as having such an impairment. (2)As used in paragraph (j)(1)of this section, the phrase: (i)Physical or mental impairment means (A)any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or (B) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. (ii)Major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. (iii)Has a record of such an impairment means has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially
limits one or more major life activities. (iv)Is regarded as having such an impairment means (A) has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but that is treated by a recipient as constituting such a limitation;(B)has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward such impairment; or (C)has none of the impairments defined in paragraph (j)(2)(i)of this section but is treated by a recipient as having such an impairment (Glossary of Assessment Terms and Acronyms ).

*Subgroup: A well-defined group of students. It is important in this context because the requirements of No Child Left Behind. No Child Left Behind identifies the following specific subgroups that must achieve Adequate Yearly Progress: students of racial or ethnic minority, students with disabilities, gender, limited-English-proficient (LEP) students, and economically disadvantaged students (Glossary of Assessment Terms and Acronyms ).

[In Wisconsin, scores for subgroups are reported only if there are at least 40 students (50 for students with disabilities). Thus, if a school has 20 students in a subgroup, the results would not be reported (and the school would not be penalized if these students failed to meet AYP requirements). However, if there are 40 students in the district, then the results would be reported and AYP requirements would have to be met for the district as a whole].

Test bias: A test item or test that is biased is one in which there is differential performance for students from different group who have the same ability levels. Bias can be the result of any number of factors, including use of unfamiliar language, use of an unfamiliar test format or item structure, use of stereotypes, etc. It’s important to recognize that even though two groups score differently on a test item or entire test, this does not mean there is bias. The groups may have different levels of ability that account for the differences in scores.

Test security: Established procedures to ensure current or future confidentiality, fidelity, and integrity of a test whereby public access is limited and strictly monitored, with clearly outlined consequences for breaches in test security (Glossary of Assessment Terms and Acronyms ).

*Title I: Title I is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that was passed in 1965. This law established a number of programs that distribute federal funds to schools and school districts with high percentages of low income students. Schools and districts that receive Title I funds must meet federal rules and guidelines, including the requirements of No Child Left Behind. [Also see ESEA and Students with Disabilities].

Validity: The extent to which an assessment measures what it is supposed to measure and the extent to which inferences and actions made on the basis of test scores are appropriate and accurate. For example, if a student performs well on a reading test, how confident are we that that student is a good reader? A valid standards-based assessment is aligned with the standards intended to be measured, provides an accurate and reliable estimate of students' performance relative to the standard, and is fair. An assessment cannot be valid if it is not reliable (Glossary of Useful Terms). [Also see Reliability].

Value-added Assessment (Value-added Measurement): Value-added assessment is a method of analyzing and reporting student test results based on improvement (“growth”) in standardized test scores over two or more points in time. This procedure contrasts with more traditional approaches, which analyze and report test results at a single moment in time. Both methods use standardized achievement tests, but value-added measurement compares each student’s latest test score with the same student’s past test score to determine growth or improvement. Within the community of measurement experts there is considerable debate about value-added assessment.

*Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Examinations: Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires all states to test all students in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school (grade 10 under Wisconsin law s.118.30). These tests are referred to as the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination - Criterion-Referenced Tests (WKCE-CRT) and replace the WKCE reading and mathematics tests beginning in the Fall of 2005. Student performance on these assessments is reported in proficiency categories and used to determine the adequate yearly progress of students at the school, district and state levels.

These standardized tests include commercially-developed questions used in schools across the country and questions developed specifically for Wisconsin in order to improve coverage of Wisconsin academic standards. The WKCE-CRT measures achievement in reading, language applications, mathematics, science, and social studies using multiple-choice and short-answer questions. Students also provide a rough draft writing sample (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).

*Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS): The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction defines the WSAS as follows: one way that students demonstrate their progress toward achieving the academic standards in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies is through participation in the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS). At present the WSAS includes both regular assessments taken by nearly all students and alternate assessments taken by certain students with limited English proficiency or disabilities.

Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, the federal No Child Left Behind Act required all states to test all students in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school (grade 10 under Wisconsin law s.118.30). These tests are referred to as the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination Criterion-Referenced Tests (WKCE-CRT) and replace the WKCE reading and mathematics tests beginning in Fall 2005. Student performance on these assessments is reported in proficiency categories and used to determine the adequate yearly progress of students at the school, district and state levels. WSAS regular assessments also include DPI-approved, locally-adopted and locally-scored supplemental assessments. WSAS alternate assessments are alternatives to WSAS regular assessments and consist of DPI-approved protocols and rubrics for the local collection and local scoring of student work (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction)

*The Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-DIS): This is a test given to students in Wisconsin whose disabilities do not allow them to take the regular Knowledge & Concepts Examinations. The scores are shown for Pre-requisite skill levels, ranging from Pre-Minimal to Pre-Advanced.

*Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for English Language Learners (WAA-EEL): The WAA-EEEL is a test given to students in Wisconsin whose English skills are not adequate to take the regular Knowledge & Concepts Examinations. The proficiency levels on the WAA for Limited English Proficient Students are equivalent to those for the regular tests.

Developed by Russ Allen, PhD, Teaching and Learning, WEAC


Posted October 29, 2006