The Las Vegas City Schools Department of Assessments and Evaluations strives to prepare all of its pupils to meet or surpass district, state, and nationwide standards. With the help of accurate data from pertinent testing we can learn what needs to be addressed to help the students achieve all benchmarks. In addition, we need the support and commitment of all parents to impress upon their students the importance of all testing, so that the results will be accurate and a true reflection of their abilities.
Below is a table of the various Formative and Summative Assessments your student might encounter in the Las Vegas City Schools:
As an integral part of Curriculum and Instruction, assessments are the barometer with which we measure each student’s learning. Assessments fall under two categories: 1) formative and 2) summative.
Formative assessments are required by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) and are administered at various times of the year to provide teachers a measure for each student’s growth. Formative assessments provide educators with the tools needed to inform instruction and drive student achievement. They help teachers answer the questions:
- Where are you now?
- Where are you going?
- What is the best way to get there?
- Are we on the right course?
Las Vegas City Schools currently uses short-cycle assessments (a type of formative assessment tool) delivered by Discovery Education Assessments. Discovery offers a variety of interim benchmarks and common assessments that are reliable, state-specific, and built on the most up-to-date research, software, and psychometrics. Discovery Education Assessments also offers a support system for Response to Intervention (RTI), an individualized support system for each student who is struggling. With the information garnered from assessments, Discovery helps our teachers screen for students at risk, monitor progress, measure growth, and identify students' response to intervention.
Summative Assessments are given at a particular time during the year to measure what the student has learned and what he/she has not learned. The most well-known summative assessment in New Mexico is the Standards Based Assessment (SBA) that is given to students in the spring. These tests are important because they tell a school whether the students have learned the objectives that were established for that year. A summative assessment at the classroom level is a measure that is generally used as part of the grading or accountability process of the student, the school and even the teacher. Some examples of summative assessments are:
- State assessments (SBA)
- End-of-unit or chapter tests
- End-of-term or semester exams
Because summative assessments occur after instruction every few weeks, months, or once a year, they are tools to help evaluate the effectiveness of programs, school improvement goals, alignment of curriculum, or student placement in specific programs.
New Mexico Standards-Based Assessment (SBA)
All New Mexico students in grades 3-8, and the 2nd and 3rd year of high school (H2 & H3) are assessed with the SBA or its alternate, the New Mexico Alternative Performance Assessment (NMAPA) for students with cognitive disabilities. No students are exempt from this assessment including students who are English Language Learners (ELLs) or students with disabilities. As required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (and reauthorized by No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001), the NM SBA is utilized to determine the level at which New Mexico students have achieved the New Mexico Standards and Benchmarks at the school and district level. The SBA is administered over a period of a few days (at the high school level) to a couple of weeks (at elementary), with different parts of the test given on different days.
Because the test is used to grade the accountability of the schools in New Mexico and will now be used to calculate part of a teacher’s and principal’s evaluations, the security with these tests is very high. It is now more important than ever for the students to perform at their highest level, not only because of the accountability measures but also because a student cannot graduate without passing the SBA in his/her 2nd or 3rd year of high school. As a result, the SBA is referred to as the HSGA, or High School Graduation Assessment, in high school.
The SBA tests a student’s knowledge of three subjects: Science, Math and Reading. However, there are two other subjects that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) requires each high school student to pass in order to graduate: Social Studies (US History) and Writing.
An End-of-Course Assessment (EoC) is designed to be a state-approved final exam given at the end of a student’s course to measure what the student has learned during that year and in a particular subject. For the subjects of Social Studies and Writing, the student must pass the exam in addition to the subjects of the SBA, to graduate.
The EoC is also designated as an alternate demonstration of competencies for students who do not pass part of the SBA. As a result, depending on the subject, the student has either two or three chances to pass the EoC.
The PED is in the process of writing more EoCs for all grades in the core subjects and some electives. Therefore, beginning in the spring of 2014, every student in the Las Vegas City Schools will take at least one EoC during a two week period of the last 3 weeks of the school year. Again, these assessments are extremely important for the student and for the school and district to measure the success of the program(s) and the teaching strategies that are being continually updated according to the latest research on teaching and learning.
W-APT and ACCESS
Any student who is new to the district is given a Home Language Survey, and if the survey reveals any background in another language other than English, the student is identified as a PHLOTE (Person with a Home Language Other Than English). Pursuant to the laws of New Mexico, all students with another language background must be screened to determine whether any student is considered an English Language Learner. If the student is identified as an ELL he/she has the right to additional instructional supports in English Language Arts and is provided with 45 minutes of instruction in another classroom. In order to measure the academic language growth of each ELL, the ACCESS test is administered in January and February to all ELL students. The writing portion is given in groups, while the reading and speaking portion is given individually. Once the student attains the minimum score considered proficient, the student is exited from the English Language Development program. The ELD program is meant to help a student augment his/her English skills in order to find success in other subjects and is completely separate from Special Educational Services.