As schools across the U.S. work to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 by implementing virtual instruction and assessments, Illuminate Education has compiled resources to help educators use their current tools for their students’ needs.
In light of the many interruptions that students have experienced due to the COVID-19 virus, schools will have to decide whether to continue with planned assessments. The U.S. Department of Education has created an expedited review process for states to request waivers from annual assessments required in relation to certain federal funding sources. This means that certain assessments will not be required for this school year. This will allow states and schools to make decisions about which other assessments will be useful for instructional planning. Educators are reminded to check with their state departments of education to learn the latest state-level requirements and guidelines.
Should Districts Assess Remotely?
When determining whether additional assessments are needed for the duration of this school year, it's valuable to first asking whether the results will provide data that are likely to support future student learning outcomes. Some schools will decide to continue with both universal screening and progress monitoring of students participating in interventions and others might choose to use one or the other, or none.
For that reason, it's recommended that (whenever possible) schools utilize the FastBridge computer-administered assessments while their students are participating in virtual instruction in home environments. Having students complete the FastBridge computer-administered assessments will allow for ongoing data collection with limited effects from a new testing environment. These assessments will be the easiest and most reliable for both students and teachers to use. FastBridge users can find detailed guidance when arranging both screening and progress monitoring for home-based computer-administered assessments.
Are There Instances When Other Assessment Options Should be Considered?
In some cases, the available FastBridge computer-based assessments will not work for a specific student’s learning and assessment needs. For example, students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) might have goals that require progress monitoring with an assessment that must be teacher-administered. If a student’s IEP and learning needs require the use of a teacher-administered assessment, virtual assessments are possible, however, additional procedures are required. In addition, such assessments are more susceptible to measurement error due to the changed testing conditions. It is recommended that such testing should be done only when absolutely necessary and after considering whether it is truly in the student’s best interest. For example, it is important to consider if the virtual testing experience will be too confusing or difficult for the student such that the scores might not be interpretable.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has brought unprecedented changes to how U.S. schools provide instruction. Many technology tools offer methods for sustaining instruction that were not available in prior emergencies. Nonetheless, such technologies might not be the best solution in all situations. For this reason, we urge educators to consider under what circumstances ongoing screening and progress monitoring will benefit students. When there is a likely benefit for the students, FastBridge assessments can be used as part of a virtual education plan.
Which FastBridge Assessments Are Computer-Administered?
FastBridge offers both screening and progress monitoring measures in the areas of reading, math, and social-emotional behavior. Some assessments are entirely computer-administered and others are teacher-administered.
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