The last couple of years in education have been far from the norm. Interruptions in learning due to school shutdowns and shifting learning models were common. Many countries had to quickly implement benchmark strategies to ensure that any gaps in learning that accrued were understood and actioned. As a result, the increased use of benchmark assessments by schools is taking hold to help shape instructional planning.
Consider the value well-executed benchmark strategies can bring (especially this coming school year) and the reasons they are important for the classroom.
The Case for Benchmark Strategies
Benchmark assessments, also known as interim benchmarks, can be used to establish a baseline of student understanding, identifying specific strengths and needs for each learner. As such, they offer critical information to guide future instruction that could ultimately prepare students for high-stakes testing.
You can think about benchmarks as a sort of in-between assessment—a way to assess your students more formally than a formative assessment might, but without the high-stakes weight that a summative assessment would bring. For this reason, benchmarks are often administered two to four times throughout the academic year.
By beginning the school year with a pulse on where your students are ready to start learning, you are able to be strategic and intentional when planning how you will teach the curriculum. Benchmark strategies are a great way for you to feel confident about identifying your students’ needs.
How Can Edmentum Help?
Edmentum supports your benchmarking efforts with two of our programs—Exact Path and Study Island. Let’s take a closer look at how each of these programs offers different approaches to benchmark strategies.
Exact Path: Adaptive Diagnostic Assessments Supporting Full K–-12 Learning Progression
Exact Path’s adaptive diagnostic assessment is built into our individualized learning program and is available for grades K–12 in the subject areas of math, reading, and language arts. The computer-adaptive assessment is designed to precisely measure strengths and needs within each subject domain.
As a computer-adaptive test, this style of benchmark assessment adapts in real-time based on a student’s responses and individual ability level. As students answer questions correctly, the questions get harder. If students answer questions incorrectly, the test adjusts to provide easier questions. The goal of this assessment style is to zero in on student understanding not only on grade-level standards but rather across a complete K–12 progression of skills. The results of this adaptive diagnostic are reported on Edmentum’s 500–1500-point scale, and robust reporting includes national percentile ranks for normed student comparisons, as well as grade-level proficiency metrics, to name just a few of the data points available.
Study Island: Fixed-Form Benchmark Assessments for Grade-Level Standards
If you’re familiar with Study Island, you may know that it’s our formative assessment solution and that it includes an increasingly popular feature, Test Builder, which enables teachers and administrators to easily create, customize, and share standards-based Built Tests. This program capability is perfect for designing your own fixed benchmarks from a robust bank of high-quality assessment items to assess grade-level proficiency. Built Tests include the ability to:
- Design a test using Study Island’s bank of questions or use your own curriculum: Test Builder allows you to choose questions by topic and even filter your questions by item type. You can also build benchmark strategies using your own material.
- Use data to drive instruction: In our Built Test Reports, you can view individual student results and a breakdown of scores by topic. This information enables teachers to individualize instruction based on how a student performed on the interim assessment. You can also view your students scores by standard, allowing you to efficiently plan instruction when preparing students for state assessments.
- Share your custom benchmarks: We know that many educators work as a team when assessing entire grade levels. With the Built Tests feature, you can share the benchmark assessments you create for one common assessment across your entire building.