A new assessment helps teachers identify struggling students and measure their improvement.

A new, no risk test in Houston will help teachers identify those children who need more intensive assistance in math and reading. The testing takes less than 30 minutes to complete, and gives teachers immediate feedback. It differs from state standardized tests in that it is shorter, administered  three times annually, provides instant results and does not come with negative consequences.

“This is the first time the district has actually had a universal screener that has been administered district-wide in both reading and math,” said the Houston Independent School District assistant superintendent of research and accountability Carla Stevens. “We are then able to identify students who need intervention, we can progress monitor them, and then we can be able to plan what we need to do with them so they can meet the goals at the end of the year.”

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Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning created the assessment. It uses results from hundreds of thousands of students who complete the assessment, and identify where students fit on a national percentile scale. If students are in the bottom ten percent they receive “urgent intervention,” which amounts to two additional hours of instruction. Betweem the 10th and 25th percentile students get “intervention” for 90 minutes. Approximately 31 percent of the Houston students taking the reading test and 16 percent of students who take the math test need “urgent intervention”.

The value for teachers is that the assessment helps them understand the academic levels of their students at the beginning of the school year. It helps teachers to know if students retained knowledge during the summer break.

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