NWEA For Everyone (Updated)

UPDATED 2/22:  See CPS press release below

Interim assessments don't appear to be going away anytime soon, much to the dismay of teachers and principals who find them cumbersome and time-consuming, but the Tribune notes CPS wants everyone to take the NWEA test three times a year (All CPS elementary school students to take NWEA assessment test).  Whether that's an improvement or not I'll leave to others.  Right now, just 134 elementary schools use NWEA.  The calendar of elementary school assessments runs four pages and includes names like ISEL, Dibels, Scantron.  Of course, perhaps it's all just an attempt to distract the Tribune and the rest of us from the closing and turnaround votes that are also on the agenda for tomorrow.

2/22 CPS PRESS RELEASE

BOARD APPROVES PROPOSAL TO ADOPT NWEA DISTRICT-WIDE AS MORE RIGOROUS AND ACCURATE MEASUREMENT OF STUDENT GROWTH

CPS Moves Away From ISAT as Only District-Wide Measurement of Student Achievement

 

 

CHICAGO — The Chicago Board of Education today approved adopting the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) as a new district-wide measurement of student growth in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The NWEA assessment will allow the District to move away from the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT), which is considered a less adequate tool in measuring student growth and true college and career readiness. Using NWEA in elementary schools district-wide will allow CPS to break away from an outdated system of measuring student achievement, and provide school leaders and teachers with access to student growth data that can better inform them of their students’ academic needs. The Board’s action came today at its monthly meeting.

 

“It is critical that teachers have access to a package of assessment tools that can help them deliver the kind of  instruction needed to address the unique academic needs of their own students,” said Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard. “Adopting NWEA as the norm in measuring student growth will also bring more accountability to our system in driving student achievement and ensuring every child is on a path to college readiness.”

 

Administering NWEA at all schools will make it easier to identify the strengths and weaknesses trends among students and schools across the district.  This will enable the district to provide targeted support, such as instructional training and advanced intervention tools, to schools with struggling students.

 

Currently, CPS elementary schools administer either one of two adaptive growth assessments – NWEA or Scantron. This prevents the district from having a common data-driven conversation about both instruction and accountability in driving student achievement.  Using NWEA district-wide will help to improve instruction and boost achievement in each classroom by providing school leaders and teachers with robust instructional and reporting tools to better address learning deficiencies and build on academic strengths of each student.

 

 

As an adaptive assessment, NWEA allows for each student to be tested at their current performance level.  Today, the ISAT is the only test administered district-wide.  Compared to an assessment that measures student achievement against an average baseline like the ISAT, NWEA can more accurately measure growth regardless of whether students fall below or above grade level on the spectrum of achievement.

 

Beginning next Fall, NWEA will be taken by approximately 270,000 students across 477 schools beginning in School Year 2012-2013.

 

NWEA was selected through an RFP process in which vendors submitted both written and oral proposals.  Those proposals were then evaluated by a 10-member committee whose members were drawn from areas of instruction, literacy, math, accountability, assessment, talent, special education, and language and culture. In addition, two representatives of the Chicago Teachers Union and representatives of three different charter school organizations participated in the oral presentations and final review discussions as non-voting advisory members. NWEA was chosen because its proposal scored the highest based on the following criteria:

 

  • Common Core Alignment
  • Existing Capacity
  • Research Base
  • Technical Specs
  • Reporting Tools
  • Instructional Usefulness
  • Cost

 

The RFP process revealed that NWEA is superior in its content, instructional utility and ability to measure student growth and therefore the best option for a district-wide assessment.  Further, NWEA was the assessment most closely aligned to the content and rigor of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which CPS will begin implementing district-wide next fall.  CCSS more accurately reflects the knowledge and skills our students need in order to succeed in college and career.  NWEA assessments are currently used in 134 CPS schools, and is considered extremely popular among teachers. Given all schools are currently administering a computer-based assessment (either NWEA or Scantron), the district is confident that all schools have the technological capacity to smoothly implement NWEA next fall.

 

“The combination of providing teachers with the data produced by NWEA and the implementation of the Common Core will have a significantimpact on driving instructional improvement and boosting student achievement throughout the district,” said CEO Brizard.

 

 

 

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  • Amazing that CPS wants to phase out Crane High School for "poor academic performance" when over 20% of their student population belongs to an achievement academy - students who have reached the age of 15 but have not yet fulfilled the requirements for completion of elementary school. How exactly is this the fault of Crane and its staff?

  • Off topic, but all are invited to join Raise Your Hand for our very first fundraiser, tonight 7-9pm at Revolution Brewing. 2323 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. Bid on silent auction items that go from wonkish to wow -- including a signed copy of D299 blog host Alexander Russo's latest book "Stray Dogs, Saints and Saviors," subscription to Jim Broadway's State School News Service and Illinois School Policy Updates, lunches with CPS CEO JC Brizard and CTU President Karen Lewis (not at the same time, unless you win both items), a weekend stay in Harbour Country and more. Enjoy the musical stylings of CPS parent/musician Matt Farmer (who writes an education blog for Huffington Post) along with bassist Mark Blade (The Crown Royals) another CPS parent/musician and harmonica wizard James Conway (fresh from an all star harmonica line up at the Hideout) and the always-in-demand guitarist, Steve Doyle. Tickets $40 in advance, $50 at the door. Register here:

  • Register at ilraiseyourhand (dot) org

  • In the Chicago Board Of Education meeting agenda for February 22, 2012 under the reports from the Chief Executive Officer: Close Best Practice HS, Guggenheim ES, Lathrop ES, Price ES, Reed ES; Phase-out Crane HS, Dyett HS; Co-Locate CTD HS in Crane HS, CHSAHS in Doolittle ES and Reconstitute (Turnaround) Casals, CVCA HS, Fuller ES, Herzl ES, Marquette ES, Piccolo ES, Smith ES, Stagg ES, Tilden HS, Woodson ES and Remove and Replace school staff incliding the Principal in the reconstituted schools..

  • So *that's* why we need a 7-1/2 hour school day.

    More time for even more testing. Because third graders can never have too much drill-and-testing';)

  • Please tell me that the NWEA test will replace the Scantron tests and not be in addition to...

    Also, not sure why the calendar of assessments indicates that the winter administration of Scantron is optional. I guess we had the option of not giving the test and losing our jobs.

  • Headache 299
    The more we test, the less we instruct; the less we instruct, the lower the scores; the lower the scores, the more we are failing kids; the more we are failing kids, the more school closings; the more school closing, the greater the unemployment; the greater the unemployment, the greater the poverty; the greater the poverty, the lower the scores; the lower the scores, the more school closings…these bastards know exactly how they are destroying public education….

  • LARGE SAT AND ACT SCORE DECLINES SHOWS FAILURE OF “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” AND STATE HIGH-STAKES TESTING STRATEGY; FAIRTEST ASKS: “HOW MANY WAKE-UP CALLS DO POLICY-MAKERS NEED?”
    Plunging SAT results released today show that, “’No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB) and state high-stakes testing programs are undermining school quality, even when measured by other standardized exams,” according to Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director of FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. Schaeffer continued, “With exploding cheating scandals and declines in college readiness scores, how many wake-up calls do policy-makers need before they admit that their test-and-punish strategy is a failure?”

    A FairTest analysis shows that overall SAT averages dropped significantly under the NCLB federal testing mandate. At the same time, gaps between Whites, Asians, and historically disadvantaged African-Americans and Hispanics have been growing larger. ACT scores, made public last month, demonstrated similar patterns. Scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) also indicate that educational progress slowed in the NCLB era. Under NCLB, every public school student must be tested annually in grades three through eight and at least once in high school in both reading and math.

    “Proponents of NCLB and similar state-level testing programs promised that overall achievement would improve while score gaps would narrow,” Schaeffer continued. “Precisely the opposite has taken place. Policymakers need to embrace very different policies if they are committed to real education reform.”

    Schaeffer added, “Fortunately, many colleges have recognized the folly of fixating on the narrow, often inaccurate, information provided by standardized tests and moved toward test-optional admissions.” According to a free web database maintained by FairTest (http:www.fairtest.org/university/optional), more than 860 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions make admissions decisions about all or many applicants without regard to SAT or ACT scores. The list includes 35 of the nation’s 100 top-ranked liberal arts colleges.

  • A dilemma. If you have equity, and all schools have equivalent operating funds, resources, and support, and where there is no teaching to the test, and where there is no high stakes testing, how would you know whether or not the children have learned what they were supposed to learn to be a contributing member of society?

    If you have schools which drill the fundamentals and use assessment-based instruction at the interim and high stakes level, how would you know whether or not the children have learned what they were supposed to learn to be a contributing member of society?

  • Great questions LTwain! How did we know students learned before there were high-stakes tests? By teacher-created criterion-referenced tests, that's how. These tests, along with student work portfolios, works great because students are tested on what teachers teach, and I promise that the vast majority of teachers know what needs to be taught.
    Did you know that the ACT has a predictive validity rate of only 17% for college success? Yet we are holding thousands of stakeholders hostage to a standard that accounts for very little in whether or not a student succeeds in college. CPS needs to do their homework.

  • here's the CPS press release about the NWEA change:

    BOARD APPROVES PROPOSAL TO ADOPT NWEA DISTRICT-WIDE AS MORE RIGOROUS AND ACCURATE MEASUREMENT OF STUDENT GROWTH
    CPS Moves Away From ISAT as Only District-Wide Measurement of Student Achievement

    CHICAGO — The Chicago Board of Education today approved adopting the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) as a new district-wide measurement of student growth in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The NWEA assessment will allow the District to move away from the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT), which is considered a less adequate tool in measuring student growth and true college and career readiness. Using NWEA in elementary schools district-wide will allow CPS to break away from an outdated system of measuring student achievement, and provide school leaders and teachers with access to student growth data that can better inform them of their students’ academic needs. The Board’s action came today at its monthly meeting.

    “It is critical that teachers have access to a package of assessment tools that can help them deliver the kind of instruction needed to address the unique academic needs of their own students,” said Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard. “Adopting NWEA as the norm in measuring student growth will also bring more accountability to our system in driving student achievement and ensuring every child is on a path to college readiness.”

    Administering NWEA at all schools will make it easier to identify the strengths and weaknesses trends among students and schools across the district. This will enable the district to provide targeted support, such as instructional training and advanced intervention tools, to schools with struggling students.

    Currently, CPS elementary schools administer either one of two adaptive growth assessments – NWEA or Scantron. This prevents the district from having a common data-driven conversation about both instruction and accountability in driving student achievement. Using NWEA district-wide will help to improve instruction and boost achievement in each classroom by providing school leaders and teachers with robust instructional and reporting tools to better address learning deficiencies and build on academic strengths of each student.

    As an adaptive assessment, NWEA allows for each student to be tested at their current performance level. Today, the ISAT is the only test administered district-wide. Compared to an assessment that measures student achievement against an average baseline like the ISAT, NWEA can more accurately measure growth regardless of whether students fall below or above grade level on the spectrum of achievement.

    Beginning next Fall, NWEA will be taken by approximately 270,000 students across 477 schools beginning in School Year 2012-2013.

    NWEA was selected through an RFP process in which vendors submitted both written and oral proposals. Those proposals were then evaluated by a 10-member committee whose members were drawn from areas of instruction, literacy, math, accountability, assessment, talent, special education, and language and culture. In addition, two representatives of the Chicago Teachers Union and representatives of three different charter school organizations participated in the oral presentations and final review discussions as non-voting advisory members. NWEA was chosen because its proposal scored the highest based on the following criteria:

    Common Core Alignment
    Existing Capacity
    Research Base
    Technical Specs
    Reporting Tools
    Instructional Usefulness
    Cost

    The RFP process revealed that NWEA is superior in its content, instructional utility and ability to measure student growth and therefore the best option for a district-wide assessment. Further, NWEA was the assessment most closely aligned to the content and rigor of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which CPS will begin implementing district-wide next fall. CCSS more accurately reflects the knowledge and skills our students need in order to succeed in college and career. NWEA assessments are currently used in 134 CPS schools, and is considered extremely popular among teachers. Given all schools are currently administering a computer-based assessment (either NWEA or Scantron), the district is confident that all schools have the technological capacity to smoothly implement NWEA next fall.

    “The combination of providing teachers with the data produced by NWEA and the implementation of the Common Core will have a significant impact on driving instructional improvement and boosting student achievement throughout the district,” said CEO Brizard.

  • @sethlavin generally likes the NWEA decision:

    "This is awesome. NWEA is an assessment that’ll give us a ton of student achievement data that’s more useful than the ISAT. ISAT is static—everyone in a grade takes the same test—it’s administered once a year and the results come back months later. NWEA is dynamic—it starts at your achievement level and gives you harder and harder questions as you do well, determining exactly where you are in terms of skill mastery. It’s also given multiple times a year so you can measure student growth. And the results come back immediately. http://trib.in/zee3w1

    "TFA uses NWEA as a primary teacher evaluation tool. They measure “years of growth” students achieve between the first NWEA of the year and the last one, then assign teachers a rating largely based on how many years their students grew on average. Should be noted there are loads of problems with NWEA and this data misunderstood can be very dangerous. More on that in future weeks.

    "Ms. Darche, a teacher from Tarkington (AUSL) shares some resources her school uses to help teachers effectively use NWEA data: http://sg.sg/yYpuKe

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Headache299
    Awesome! Hip Hip Hurray for NWEA! “ with loads of problems” and with data that when “misunderstood can be very dangerous”. “TFA uses NWEA as a primary teacher evaluation tool” and they’re usually out in two to three years!

  • We were told about NWEA during our Thursday morning staff meeting. While it sounds "great", several questions came to my mind. How will we administer this computer assessment properly when its almost impossible to rotate and schedule classes to complete Scantron ?? (due to a lack of working PC's/laptops) ...not to mention the system crashes during testing. My next question....how will this be used against the teachers? Gen Ed teachers will despise having any Sp Ed Inclusion students due to their scores.

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    Headache299
    How will it be used against teachers? Every way possible!

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