District Common Assessments FAQs
District Common Assessments
Lawrence Public Schools has decided to develop its own District Common Assessments (DCAs). As a result, the district will discontinue the use of the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP or MAP) assessment. Listed below are answers to some frequently asked questions about this transition in assessments.
Why is the district discontinuing the use of NWEA MAP?
As the district focuses on the goals of its strategic plan, there are many data points to help us understand how we are doing, including academic assessments. We currently use two nationally normed-referenced assessment screeners, MAP and AIMSWeb. We are developing DCAs to align with Professional Learning Communities’ (PLCs) formative assessments and year-end Kansas State Assessments that measure mastery of specific state standards or what we want students to know and be able to do as they progress through courses and grade levels. As we develop DCAs, we are working toward putting a balanced assessment system in place to maximize the information we gather about student progress and ensure that we do not over-test students.
How do DCAs tie to the state assessments?
A balanced assessment system has multiple data points, all serving different purposes. The state assessment measures some of the grade-level standards that students should have learned throughout the school year. DCAs will measure more of those standards during the school year. Teachers can use DCAs, in combination with their classroom measurement tools, to examine reliable information about how their students are doing on each standard and adjust instruction to assist student learning before state assessments.
Will all students be required to take DCAs?
Families have always had the right to opt out of student assessments. The district encourages all students to participate because this data is used to assist us in selecting curriculum, planning professional development opportunities for staff, and identifying and remedying inequities in our educational system, all with the focus of improving the academic experience and success of all students.
What grade levels and subjects will DCAs cover?
This year, DCAs will be available in both math and English language arts for grades K-8, with some assessment in high school.
How will the items of the test be determined?
Since there is limited professional development time for teachers, in the first year of DCAs, the district will provide assessment items. In future years, teachers will receive item writing training and will be more involved in the creation of items for the DCAs.
What information will I receive from the DCAs?
DCAs will provide information about your student’s mastery of the learning standards. The standards assessed will be aligned with what our educators are teaching. This process will be slightly different than NWEA MAP because assessments will be tied to our curriculum and instruction.
There will be no more than six short assessments of 12-24 items that cover 2-3 standards throughout the school year. Results will be reported through the student information system, PowerSchool Unified Classroom. The district will also provide building- and district- level comparative reports. Parents will be able to see the standards measured and how their students are doing at mastering those standards through the parent portal of PowerSchool.
Are DCAs formative or summative?
DCAs should primarily be used in a formative process or to inform instruction. In some cases, DCAs will be summative, such as when a student has mastered the standards being assessed. If a student has yet to master the standards being assessed, students, teachers, and parents will be able to use the assessments as formative feedback and continue to adjust instruction and support for student learning. DCAs will not be used as part of students’ grades. They are intended to inform students, parents, and staff of students’ knowledge and skills so we can partner together to support continued student achievement and success.