Schools are starting to receive their students’ PSAT scores from the October test. While these scores will be a valuable marker for teachers and students, does it qualify as a good benchmark test? If not, what can schools do?
What is a GOOD Benchmark Assessment?
A benchmark assessment is a test administered throughout the school year to evaluate a student’s knowledge and skills. A good benchmark assessment has the following qualities:
- Standards-Aligned: The benchmark assessment should be aligned to the state standards. Otherwise, it provides little insight into how students are progressing.
- Provides Valuable Data: The assessment must provide useful feedback to teachers for instructional planning. Quality benchmark assessments will not only tell teachers how their students scored but will also provide extensive information on how students are doing on specific skills, standards, and content.
- Designed to Find Student Misconceptions: Multiple-choice questions can provide great insight into helping teachers pinpoint common student misconceptions, such as where in the process students make mistakes when solving an algebraic equation. Reports that offer teachers question-and-answer analysis can show where students are missing key understandings.
- Teacher Support: Even if a benchmark assessment has all the above qualities, it isn’t useful unless teachers are given proper training and support in utilizing the test data to adjust their instruction. Schools must offer teachers support in interpreting the information correctly and providing time, support, and resources to adjust their instruction accordingly. Schools can provide teachers with professional-learning communities, alternative materials, and planning time to prepare.
Why Offer a Good Benchmark Assessments?
A good benchmark assessment can be incredibly valuable to principals and teachers. In addition to providing valuable data to teachers to inform their classroom instruction, benchmark assessments provide an opportunity for schools to practice their testing and technology systems. This can help avoid any issues on the official testing day. It also provides students with an opportunity to work on their timing for the test and practice the endurance it takes to complete a long, standardized test. It also offers a chance for students to practice their reading strategies in real-time. Finally, offering them a trial run helps relieve test anxiety that students might have about standardized tests.
How Academic Approach Can Help
Benchmark assessments can be extremely valuable for schools and teachers. Academic Approach’s benchmark assessments are aligned to the SAT Standards, mimic the digital test format, and include a suite of online reports designed to help teachers discover areas for growth and common student misconceptions. We also offer schools professional development sessions to help teachers dive into their students’ data, make informed decisions, and adjust their instruction accordingly. If you are interested in learning more about our quality benchmark assessments, please contact us at email@example.com