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Kristen Rodriguez, Data and Instructional Technology Coordinator, TeamCFA

Did you ever finish teaching a Core Knowledge domain and wonder, “Did my students understand the big ideas? Did they learn what they need to know?” I know I have, more often than I care to admit.

As Core Knowledge educators, how do we assess student understanding in our classrooms? Our students are already being assessed frequently on state standards. We don’t want to introduce more stress or pressure. But we want to know that our students “got it.” What to do?

To address this question, a pilot program is now in the works for a Core Knowledge online assessment tool. The assessment has gone through an initial pilot year at 6 schools, and we are now looking for Core Knowledge schools interested in joining the pilot for Year 2.

The CK Online Assessment

The Core Knowledge online assessment is a work in progress. In its current form, it uses online tools available from ProProfs. The assessments are embedded into a customized website for each participating school.

The assessment was designed with certain goals in mind—specifically, it should:

  • be a formative assessment, not summative
  • be brief so as not to take too much time away from instruction, and user-friendly for both teachers and students
  • not be a “got ya” for teachers but instead a tool to help them focus, refine, and improve their teaching
  • provide results/data to teachers in fairly short order
  • go beyond a traditional “fill in the bubble” test and instead include a mix of question types, including multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill in the blank, short answer, and brief essays.

All assessment items except the short answers and essays are automatically scored by the software.

How the Year 1 Pilot Worked

Six Core Knowledge schools, both public and charter, participated in the first year of piloting online assessments in grades 3–8 for two Core Knowledge domains: Science, and History and Geography. These schools are in four different states in different regions of the country and represent a wide range of demographics and socio-economic levels. Approximately 1,000 students were included in the pilot.

Pilot schools agreed to give at least three assessments during the school year. Most schools decided to assess at the end of each quarter. At each school, teachers received training on how to administer the assessments and interpret the results.

After each assessment, I have visited the schools and had grade level meetings with teachers. Each meeting has transformed this project. For example, in some grades we have changed the look of the assessment to resemble state assessments so that students can become familiar with the format. We have also included more question types that students will see on their state assessments. We have added “challenge questions” and, with the help of the teachers, created essay questions that specifically pertain to concepts emphasized by the teacher in her or his class.

After the first assessment, some schools chose to administer the assessment after every domain rather than wait until the end of a quarter. Many teachers initially wary of the assessments have bought into the idea. The assessments have given them an opportunity to reflect on how effectively they are teaching their domains and how well their students are learning. Teachers are using data from the assessments to become more focused and thorough in their instruction.

Year 2 Pilot: CK Schools Needed!

Teacher feedback and collaboration are vital to making this project a success moving forward. That’s why we are now looking for Core Knowledge schools interested in joining the pilot for Year 2. To find out more about the online assessments or becoming a pilot site, please use our online Contact Form and begin your message with the words ASSESSMENT PILOT.

Would you like to see some sample assessments? Maybe you would like to take one of the assessments? Feel free to explore this website.

There are so many fantastic Core Knowledge schools out there—we are looking for a few that want to share their knowledge and passion and ideas to help promote student success.

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