South Dakota Curriculum, Technology, & Assessment (page 2)
Dakota STEP (State Test of Educational Progress) is the new assessment system for accountability in South Dakota schools. STEP has as its basic platform the new Stanford 10 Abbreviated test. The Stanford 10 Abbreviated test was augmented to fully assess South Dakota Content Standards in Reading and Mathematics as required by No Child Left Behind. Science augmentation will be added before 2007 per NCLB timelines.
Dakota STEP will be given at Grades 3-8 and 11. The augmented Stanford 10 Abbreviated will be un-timed and will yield both norm-referenced and standards-based scores. Subjects that will be assessed by the abbreviated form of the Stanford 10 Abbreviated (norm-referenced) will include Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts. Standards that will be assessed by the add-on augmentation are the SD Content Standards in Reading and Mathematics for each grade (2003) plus eventually the SD Content Standards in Science for each grade (by 2007).
DACS Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the rationale for a statewide criterion referenced/standards-based test?
A: The legal answer is state law requires it. SDCL 13-3-55 mandates that every accredited school district, beginning in the spring of 2001-2002 school year, test students in grades 3, 6, & 10 using the criterion referenced test the state provides.
The educational answer is what every educator already knows: schools should test students to assess what they are learning. Good teachers understand the only way to know if there is progress in the classroom is to check for understanding of the subject matter. The state standards are of little value without some form of assessment to determine if students are learning what is required. A criterion referenced/standards-based test also gives educators feedback that can be used to make revisions to improve curriculum.
With more and more emphasis being placed on accountability, the public’s answer to the question is that schools need a means to inform stakeholders about their progress. Current forms of assessment meet part of that objective, but a state criterion referenced test can give schools the information they need to clearly demonstrate what their students know based on SD content standards, not national norms.
Q: How does the test work?
A: Students take the DACS test online through their school’s computer system. Once a school has received a site ID, it can then load the student data and prepare to put students online. Students are then brought to labs or other computer areas to log onto the system and begin taking the tests. Once a test is complete student scores and feedback on their progress is almost instantly presented online. Reports are also available to teachers, principals, and district-level officials for further analysis.
A school or a teacher can have their students log onto the site at www.edperformance.com at any time and take a test. Individual teachers or schools decide how many tests to have their students take during the year. At least two tests are recommended, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Q: What is the Performance Series?
A: The Performance Series is an online Standards-based Adaptive Measurement designed for grades 2-12. The test is designed to be a criterion-referenced test that is aligned to South Dakota standards. A curriculum Alignment Guide is used to align the state standards to skills assessed in the Performance Series test. This process is done by adjusting the grade level of the skills to match the grade level of the specific standards. Once a student completes a test the reports will reflect the adjusted grade levels.
Q: How long does the test take?
A: On average a student can complete a test in approximately 40 - 45 minutes. The test is not timed. Students may continue to work as long as they need to complete each exam. If a student runs out of time, the test does allow the student to log out and log back in at a later time to complete it. When taking the test, the computer does not allow a student to go back and change an answer later once it has been entered, therefore, the security of a stop/restart system is not compromised.
Q: Are the Performance Series tests timed?
A: No, the students should be allowed as much time as needed to take the test.
Q: What happens if the test is stopped?
A: If a test is stopped before a student has finished, the test will resume at exactly the spot where the student left off. Students must resume testing within two weeks of stopping the test.
Q: Do all students see the same test?
A: No, since the Performance Series test is computer adaptive each test is unique for every student. Even if two students happen to have the same test question, the answers are scrambled, which increases test security. In addition, there are different forms of the item bank available and each student is randomly given a different form each time they take the test.
Q: What are the statewide testing windows?
A: The testing window for 2006-2007 is completely open for schools to test. Any school can test whenever their schedule permits.
Q: Who should administer the test?
A: DOE recommends that one person in each school district be designated as the district’s contact person / DACS coordinator. This person is responsible for training all proctors and making sure the student data is updated, enrolled, and that each student has been placed on the system. The person responsible for this position is selected by the district and is typically an administrator, counselor, teacher, or computer coordinator. Districts may want to establish one location controller in each school to help maintain the database and assist with testing.
Q: What is the "grade equivalency number" on the Performance test?
A: Right now when students read the results of their exams, the grade equivalency score shows them how well they answered questions based on their grade level. A student who scores an 8.5 will understand that he/she is scoring at the midpoint of the 8th grade year in each category.
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