In the spring of 2015, the state of Washington will replace its former standardized English-language arts and mathematics tests with new Smarter Balanced Assessments for all students in grades 3-8 and 11. Learn More
Why assess students?
Because the scores help us understand how much progress students are making individually and as a group. As we identify these strengths and weaknesses, we can make better decisions to improve our teaching practices, programs, and curriculum.
Teachers and administrators analyze assessment scores to assign specific services to students; to cover a concept in a new way if students do not understand; to create and monitor academic goals; to provide targeted training for all staff; to ensure no demographic of students is being left behind; and much more.
In other words, assessments improve teaching and learning for all students.
Tukwila School District 2016-17 Assessment Calendars by Grade
What is each assessment and why is it important?
State required assessments
- Smarter Balanced Assessments: Given to every student in grades 3-8 and 11 in the spring to assess progress in English-language arts and math. These assessments align with the state’s new learning standards and are meant to test student’s critical thinking and problem solving at a deeper level.
- Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills(WaKIDS): Given to every kindergartner in September, this measures the social/emotional, physical, cognitive, language, literacy, and mathematic preparedness of students. Teachers use this information to tailor their instruction to the individual needs of each child.
- Measurements of Student Progress (MSP): Students in grades 5 and 8 take the science MSP. The format is a mix of multiple choice, short answer, and fill-in responses. Student performance is measured against a state standard. Students who score a 400 and above have met standard; scores below 400 have not met standard. Schools track overall progress and student’s individual progress through their MSP scores; they also use them to assign services and interventions to students.
- End-of-Course Exams (EOCs): These measure students’ knowledge in Algebra 1, Geometry, and Biology when they complete each course (grades 7-12; students can retest until they meet standard). Student performance is measured against a state standard. Students who score a 400 and above have met standard; scores below 400 have not met standard. Students must pass at least one math EOC to graduate. Beginning with the Class of 2015, students must pass all three EOCs to graduate.
- Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA): This annually assesses growth in English language development through reading, writing, listening, and speaking tests. State law requires that all students who are identified for ELL (English Language Learner) services through placement testing must take the WELPA each year, regardless of whether or not they receive services. Annual WELPA scores help determine services provided to students who qualify for ELL. Students who score in the Transitional range are considered exited but qualify for two additional years of progress monitoring and support in achieving grade-level proficiency in core academic areas.
- Developmentally Appropriate Proficiency Exam (DAPE): Available for special-education students in grades 11 or 12 who were not successful on the HSPE or EOC and whose IEP teams have determined that regular high-school exams are not appropriate toward meeting state graduation requirements. DAPE Frequently Asked Questions
Locally Determined Tests
The Tukwila School District also uses a variety of tests to assess classroom performance on reading, writing, and math skills. These include the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy (DIBELS) to measure elementary students’ progress in reading; the Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) to measure reading progress in 6th-10th grade; the Mathematics Benchmark Assessments (MBAs) for grades K-8th and in appropriate high-school math classes; and the Cognitive Abilities Test (CoGAT) for highly-capable services. High school students also participate in PSAT/SAT college-entrance testing in the fall, and students in Advanced Placement courses take the national exit exams for college credit in the spring.
High School Testing Requirements Grid
Tips for students to prepare for assessments
- Practice good study habits throughout the school year; do your homework.
- Do practice tests under timed conditions, if possible.
- Get a good night’s rest and eat a healthy, filling breakfast.
- Think positively!
- If you are anxious beforehand, close your eyes and think of something that makes you happy for 60 seconds.
- Read and pay attention to all directions.
- Make sure to record the answer in the correct place on the answer sheet.
- Completely erase any answers you change.
- Don’t spend too much time on any one question.
- Skip difficult questions until last; make a list of the skipped questions on scratch paper and come back to those at the end as time permits.
- Know the test and strategize. For instance, some tests penalize you for incorrect answers and some do not.
- Narrow down possible answers through elimination of obviously incorrect choices and reasoning to select the best choices.