Assessments are critical in evaluating students’ learning in real-time, their progress over the year, and their overall well-being. As schools continue to deal with the academic and emotional impact of the pandemic, knowing where each student stands can propel their success moving forward.
As we shared in a previous blog post, many school districts are directing their American Rescue Plan (ARP) federal stimulus funding toward interim and benchmark assessments. According to Bloomberg, 31.4 percent of school districts have earmarked funding for assessments, totaling $218 million nationwide.
But the types of assessments schools are spending their federal dollars on vary from district to district.
Where the funds are headed
In a survey of 452 district administrators and principals conducted by EdWeek Market Brief, researchers uncovered that the top five assessments or assessment features schools have on their must-have list for the next two years include:
- Benchmark/interim assessments
- Formative/classroom-based assessments
- Assessments/measures of students’ social-emotional well-being
- Resources to help incorporate assessment results into instruction, and
- Supplemental materials for teachers to build on topics covered in tests
Districts, however, are prioritizing different assessments based on the characteristics of their student population.
Officials in poorer districts have placed an emphasis on benchmark/interim assessments to identify and address the struggles of learning loss caused by COVID-19. For instance, students in low-income schools suffered an 11-point decline in math scores since March 2020 compared to a seven-point dip among their more affluent peers. In response, 46 percent of schools that serve students in poverty are devoting ARP funds to measuring student progress.
These districts have also earmarked federal funds for tools to help English-language learners and features that assist teachers in explaining assessment results to parents.
On the other hand, administrators from wealthier school districts are more likely to target stimulus spending on students’ social-emotional learning (SEL). Thirty-five percent of these schools are focusing on SEL compared to just 22 percent of low-income districts.
One platform, an array of assessments
Even with an influx of funding, districts still have to be mindful of where every dollar is spent to maximize outcomes for their students. With Apex Learning, students can access engaging digital curriculum that ignites their curiosity while districts can monitor their progress throughout the year.
Our online platform seamlessly embeds assessments within each area of study to measure a student’s understanding of the content throughout the learning process. Formative assessments in real-time guide teachers in modifying instruction to each student’s individual needs while summative achievement measured at the end of an instructional unit evaluates a student’s progress semester to semester or year to year.
Because of the flexibility of Apex Learning’s embedded assessments, our digital platform can be adapted to any district or learning model. To discover how we can help you better gauge your students’ learning, connect with an Apex consultant today.