I’ve already talked a bit about pulling the best assessment record, but I haven’t really talked about how I’m defining Assessment records in the OSIMS database. Here’s that discussion:
At their most basic level, assessments measure students’ abilities in one or more skills. Most often those abilities are reported as numerical values for each skill. In some cases the assessment may also report a composite score which is a combination of all those individual skill scores. I’ll accommodate up to 20 of these “Score Reporting Categories” or SRCs, both composite or skill scores per an assessment. The number 20 was an arbitrary choice which should give me plenty of room for nearly any assessment. The likelihood that an assessment is going to report on more than 20 individual areas is fairly slim.
Each line in the database will represent a separate assessment instance, with up to 20 skills represented.
Other Important Information
There are some other pieces of information to record for each assessment to make the data more useful.
In order to monitor the progress of individual students and even to group them together, I’m going to need include a unique student identifier. I’ll also keep track of some other items that may help identify the assessment at a later date should we need to locate it. Specifically, the user who entered the data and the date they entered it, the teacher who gave the assessment and when it was given, and the title of the assessment if one is given. Some of these items find themselves most useful on reports intended for the students themselves. They’ll know who to talk to if their performance on Mr. Johnson’s “Science Lab #3″ given on January 18th didn’t pass muster.
For the most flexibility in the design, I’m going to use this same database for many different types of assessments. SAT, ACT, Oregon State Assessments, formative and local assessments designed by teachers are all going to end up in the same place and be accessible through all the same reports and tools. So I’ll also need to provide a field that differentiates what type of assessment the record contains.
Defining Assessment Types
Assessments come in many different flavors. Most people are familiar with the large scale “summative” assessments which present students with a lot of questions to determine their knowledge of an entire subject. These assessments are generally given only once per a school year at most. On the other end of the spectrum are the more informal “formative” assessments which might be as simple as reading aloud to the class for 1 minute each week. The teacher would then record the number of words read to monitor each student’s abilities.
After examining a number of different assessments currently in use by my school district and from various vendors, I’ve identified the following criteria as being important for determining the skills and/or expectations for a wide range of assessments:
Vendor: Simply who provides the assessment or the common name used for the assessment. This is mostly for identification purposes. For example: Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or (OAKS).
Subject: The subject to which this assessment pertains. Reading, Math, etc…
Level: For which level of student is this assessment appropriate? 3rd grade, 4th grade, 10 year olds, high school students, etc…
Window: Or “window of time” for assessments which are given multiple times a year. The test may expect students to perform differently at different points in the school year, or even measure different skills at different points. This identifies to which window of time the assessment relates.
Discipline: At times an assessment may be available in different areas. In the case of the Oregon Writing assessment, students may write a narrative or persuasive piece. This would allow for identifying those traits and would allow for different skills to be measured in differing disciplines.
I’ve chosen to allow each unique combination of these traits to represent a different assessment type. Each assessment type dictates which skills are to be assessed, and what students are expected to know.
For example, the the DIBELS assessment measures Reading skills for students in primary grades K-3rd. First grade students are measured during the fall window of time on “Letter Naming Fluency” but by the winter window, that measurement is replaced with two other skills. By tying the skills to the traits above, we’re able to make that transition in skills within the system.
At the same time, the same structure can accommodate the OAKS Social Science assessment for middle school which measures kids on five skills and is only given at the 8th grade. Or SAT scores…