Washington, D.C. — The American Institutes for Research issued the first round of new achievement reports in the Columbus School District as part of a pilot program for the Ohio Department of Education. These test score reports help parents and educators identify whether each child is learning what they need to know in a way that is easy to understand. The No Child Left Behind Act requires standards that tell schools at what level they need to be—these new test score reports tell them how to get there.
At this stage, the reports are only for the Grade 3 Reading Achievement Test, but AIR will develop reports through 2007 on all Ohio state proficiency tests administered in the third through eighth grades. There are four types of reports, each tailored specifically to the intended audience—parents, teachers, principals and superintendents.
The reports are generating positive feedback from parents, teachers and administrators. The headline in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper declared: “State Revamps Proficiency Reports. The new format gives parents insight into kids' reading abilities and how to help.” The article went on to quote Stan Heffner, the associate state superintendent overseeing Ohio's testing program, as saying: “We're going to give parents more than numbers. They're going to have other tools to see how their child is doing in school and how they can do better.”
Like the conventional reports, the new achievement reports show how children scored on the state reading test and offer a breakdown of whether they were below, at, or above proficiency on the test's four sections. But unlike the old format, the new one shows how the child's total score compares with the state, school and district average. It also explains what the four sections of the test — involving acquisition of vocabulary, reading process, understanding informational text and literary writing — are trying to assess and gives examples of the types of skills that a child was able to demonstrate and in which ones they need help. The new report offers "next steps'' for parents to follow, like encouraging their children to read aloud and discuss what they're reading. The report also suggests questions parents can discuss with their child’s teacher.
Similarly, the teacher’s report offers ways to focus instruction for improvement, gives suggestions on how to talk to the student’s parents and provides additional resources for instructional materials and professional development. The achievement reports that are given to teachers groups students by common learning profiles, which teachers can use to help plan for short-term groups. Teachers are also shown their students’ strengths and weaknesses and how they measure up against the rest of the school, district and state.
Columbus Public Schools were chosen for the pilot study because they mirror the regional, cultural, and socio-economic diversity of the state.
AIR, founded in 1946, is a recognized leader in the behavioral and social sciences. It is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization engaged in domestic and international research, development, evaluation, analysis, product development, training and technical assistance and assessment.