Boulder Valley School District

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Jonathan Dings

Exec Dir, Assessmnt/Prgrm Eval

Why We Assess

In alignment with the Boulder Valley School District Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals, the following principles should guide development of an assessment system. Assessments should reflect the values of a whole-person approach, with attention to academics, social emotional wellbeing and physical development.

Assessments must help us learn about our students.  What do they need to learn?  What kind of learners are they?  What are their strengths?  What are their interests?  The system will use a variety of assessments so that students have multiple ways and opportunities to demonstrate skills and understanding. The system will strive to include assessment tools, processes and outcomes that are relevant for students.  The purposes of assessments should be explicitly stated.  The assessment system should be efficient for a variety of purposes and stakeholders.  Our assessment practices must be inclusive and accessible to all learners.

Common language around assessment supports system coherence and the following glossary defines our use of assessment terms.

Purpose 1:  Supporting student success through universal instruction.  Assessment tools are needed to inform instruction, support student reflection, engage parent/family support and guide school-based planning for all students.  Examples of tools that support this purpose are common assessments, student demonstrations of mastery, supports for formative assessment practice and tools that help identify students’ strengths, interests, and areas for growth.

Purpose 2:  Supporting student success through screening, intervention and progress monitoring.  Assessment tools are needed to support the critical elements of a Multi-tiered System of Supports -- a Key Action in the Systems of Support Action Area.  These tools include universal screeners, progress monitoring tools and diagnostic tools in the areas of reading, behavior/student wellbeing and math. 

Purpose 3:  Supporting student success through educator growth.  Common Assessment data informs educator effectiveness and supports collaboration among educators.  Educators use student assessment results to inform their goal setting and evaluation process.  Note, this does not mean that student assessment data must be factored into an educator’s effectiveness rating.  Rather, the data should directly inform the annual goal setting process.  Student assessment results also inform the professional learning focus at schools and at the district level.  Teacher determined assessments may be used to complement common assessments.

Purpose 4:  Supporting student learning through continuous improvement at the system level.  Assessment tools are needed to inform district level decisions about programs, resources, and initiatives.  In particular, student assessment results inform the evaluation of both the effectiveness of programs (for example: instructional materials, specific professional learning programs, student support programs, etc.) and equity of access for students through monitoring gaps in student success among demographic groups.

* Assessment Principles were identified by the District Assessment Team.