Validating the effectiveness and accuracy of district assessments

The Challenge

Teachers and central teams within Denver Public Schools (DPS) had invested time and energy into developing a set of interim assessments. Prior to administering the new assessments, the DPS Assessment team chose to have an assessment expert from outside the district conduct an objective review to confirm the quality and accuracy of the assessments.

 The Solution

The DPS Assessment team—part of the Accountability, Research and Evaluation department—contracted with the Measured Progress Assessment Services team to validate the efficacy of their district-created assessments. Measured Progress content specialists reviewed a key quality indicators that include:

  • Effectiveness of overall test design and structure;
  • Alignment to standards;
  • Quality and rigor of test questions and stimuli; and
  • Accuracy of scoring materials.

The Results

Upon completion of the project, Denver received:

  • A criteria-based summary report with suggestions for improvement;
  • Detailed annotations of the tests and items; and
  • A live webinar presentation for the district test developers to ask questions and discuss the findings in detail with a Measured Progress Assessment Specialist.

Information from the external review provided professional development for the Assessment team—generating ideas that they could implement quickly.  They used the feedback to improve specific aspects of individual items, such as:

  • Indicators of bias/sensitivity issues;
  • Potential ambiguity in multiple-choice answers; and
  • Need for clarity in stimuli to improve alignment to standards.

DPS continues to implement strategies gained from the assessment review into assessment design and item selection.  The Assessment team also shares lessons learned from the assessment review during teacher collaboration sessions.

The review was great! Not only were we able to validate the quality and accuracy of our locally produced assessments, we received guidance on how to improve them moving forward. And, my curriculum leaders improved their understanding of assessment design. It was well worth the investment.

— K. Maxey-Moore, Director of Assessment, DPS

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