Education. Benchmark Assessment and Its Structure

Purpose of Assessment

Benchmark Assessment system is an efficient method for the evaluation of the students’ achievements and of what should be improved. In this respect, the reasonable background for the implementation of the procedure of benchmark assessment lies in the characterization of the procedure. The US educational system and its sub-division, namely the National Midterm School Association (NMSA) provide the assessment several times a year. One for each quarterly is enough. The history of suchlike assessing preoccupies the reasons for control and verification of the national standards in education among the states. In other words, due to the uneasy world situation in the twentieth century, the need for high standards in education increased in the United States. Due to this feature educators ought to be able to provide qualitative checking. This method helps to solve at least two tasks: get to know the real situation about progress in studies, and to know what to improve. Owing to suchlike targeting the assessment system was called to make improvements in both students and teachers, as major figures in the educational process. All in all, a benchmark assessment system was elaborated in order to support a teacher in his/her intentions for improvements in the class. Thus, the purpose of the assessment is implied in the main dimensions of its straightforward use. For this urge the system is helpful in three strategic ways:

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  1. Provision of monthly or quarterly feedbacks of students’ progress regarding the states standards;
  2. Outlook on advantages and limitations as well as grade levels as of the major standards;
  3. Recognition of targeted strategies for a teacher to master (Benchmark Assessment System, 2003).

Structure of Assessment

The structure of the benchmark assessment can be developed from its types. In his case, a teacher looks at the applicable methodology for the provision of the tests. Testing itself is the most optimal means for discovering the reality and essence of the educational process at places. First of all, the grade band should be identified. Aaronson et al (2002) describe and discusses the most peculiar tasks to be done. The variants of appropriate grades presuppose marking from 3-5 to 6-8. The subject of the task is significant for the checking procedure. In this respect, social studies, sciences, or other subjects are used according to the specification of a class or on a general basis. Then the evaluation of the task is needful. The question estimation and their types include the diversity of the approaches toward the mental activity of a student. In this respect, one should realize that it is not training but checking of knowledge. The result of students’ ability to perform their knowledge base, quick-wittedness, and reaction falls into several tasks. These are questions of multiple-choice, extended response, and short answers (Aaronson et al, 2002). Another point in the structure of the assessment is the supposed rubric for a teacher and students. All in all, the Department of Education in the United States keeps a strict eye on the correctness of the structural part within assessments. This helps following the standardized patterns so that to provide a better policy of verification. In order to achieve high scholar results, teachers should be capable to move the class toward targeted knowledge acquisition before and after each benchmark assessment.

Content of Assessment

For the benchmark assessment, the content features are significant in order to gauge the extent of students’ readiness for the current class. Thereupon, the system recommends using the categories of the summative evaluation, theoretical and practical use of methods, operational framework, current standards, data analysis along with supporting charts and graphs. In this respect Epstein et al (2009) collected the reports on benchmark assessment so that to admit: “the benchmark assessment involves identifying the valuation model to be used, documenting key assumptions, and measuring the fair value of the reporting unit” (709). The content evaluation also gives varied and rather comprehensive information about the details which are imposed in this sort of assessment. Test levels help to measure the appropriate grade level of the class. Thus, it is included in the body of the assessment. The schedule and length of tests are posed into benchmark assessment to have an idea of the current achievements and abilities of the class. Thus, the content of the assessment is based on grounds of its destination and application in a definite school and, perhaps, in a definite class.

Administration Method of Assessment

With regards to the Educational system of the United States supported by the National Department of Education, it is the mandatory responsibility of schools to provide benchmark assessments. In this case, the educational subsidiaries affiliated with the local governments in states should be aware of the assessment promotion in a periodical character. In turn schools according to the points of NMSA should be ready to make up everything for the successful carrying out of the assessment. Furthermore, the methodology, in this case, plays an extraordinary role. The personnel in the schools should be preliminarily trained incorrect maintenance and implementation of the assessment. During the whole educational process, teachers are better to undergo courses of qualification improvement. This is one of the predominant requirements which are needful for the provision of the assessment. Moreover, the suchlike background will help to demonstrate the capacity of teachers and schools in right targeting of what lacks attention.

In terms of the contemporary means for education, the technical and technological training of teachers is vital. The thing is that it is convenient to work over benchmark assessment via computer labs or via Internet sources. The applied official educational websites are better to assess in large classrooms. This approach is necessary for the optimization of the process. What is more, it facilitates the role of a teacher, as an instructor, due to the pre-arranged menu of the sequential steps while being tested. However, a teacher is responsible for make-up work. This means that the refreshments of the tests on the official web page per month guarantee the exception of old tests and questions. Notwithstanding the disability of a student to make haste with answering questions, “make-up work needs to be done within the testing window for each month” (Benchmark Assessment System, 2003, p. 3).

The measures of security should be also included in the schedule of administration actions. The staff of the school needs the guarantee of performing assessment upon secure conditions. Thereupon, in each school, there should be a monitoring commission with administrators in each class. The surveillance over the process will help to meet the requirements of additional safety during the process of the assessment implementation. There also should be the coordinators of the whole procedure, so that to fix and project the survey in the proper form of register and report. Downey et al (2008) have a close look at the preferable means for security in assessing different tasks. The authors admit that summative evaluation serves in some respects, as a tool for making assertions whether teachers met their targets or not. Nonetheless, the primary role of administering the process of benchmark assessment relies on a teacher’s initial urge for guiding instructions. In fact, the extent of success in the assessment is in most cases shaped owing to students’ (mis)understanding of primordial instructions.

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Description of the targeted population to be tested

In the flow of discussion implemented in the report, one can identify the straightforward approach to schools. The point is that the audience of tested people depends on the grade band which a school possesses. The Intermediate Schools (3-5), Middle Schools (6-8), and High Schools (9-12) are the major objects for the assessment model (Kelly & Haber, 2006). Within these types of schools, the research props up against the students of Middle Schools. The examination of the testing perspectives is promoted on several levels, namely: those of school, district, and state. The students with middle knowledge performance are the targeted population in the assessment.

Reporting Method of Assessment

The interpretation of test reports is the final outcome of the benchmark assessment. In this respect, the observers and experts gauge the current data compared to the previous ones. The assertions and conclusions promote a line of discussion for further targets in the educational base of a school, district, and state. The whole observation touches upon the state, district, and each student’s performance after the assessment. This is why the commission along with administers and coordinators should correctly evaluate and examine the final results. This needs more attention when some features of testing were disputable and provided confrontations between teachers responsible for the assessment. Among the educators, the three-level determination of test participants’ results is used, namely: Advanced, Proficient, and Below Proficiency. In case when a student is disabled to undergo the test it becomes an impulse for the administration about appeared limitations in educating. In this respect, the reporting procedure admits the remark on such negative results. The administrators and people responsible for the promotion of the assessment should also bear in mind the reporting procedure via computers and the applicable program.

According to the Benchmark Assessment System (2003), if the whole process was undertaken by means of computer and proper Internet technologies, then the reporting becomes quite easier. The thing is that the electronic database is already “equipped” with the devices for calculations and drawing the graphs or charts for the progress in a school. This helps them to identify the level which the school possesses along with the whole performance of the district and state. Moreover, the process is fast and easy to implement. Just one click on the appropriate button and the report appears in the testing window. The navigation is helpful for making conclusions about the benchmark assessment just after finishing the tests by a class.

Hence, the information from reports helps teachers indicate the interventions among students. To say more, it correlates the whole picture as for the class progress and further design of the lessons. The results of the assessment depend on the positive or negative tendency in education. This is why the reporting methods are needful for educators for the purpose of immediate actions in order to improve the situation. However, one should not think of the assessment, as the competition or a method for excluding or compelling bad students and encouraging good ones with material amenities, for example. Burch (2009) works out the idea of successful promotion of the testing among schools. The author indicates that the main aim of the reporting is to find out in a student the points in which there is progress or a lack of understanding. It is a kind of written interaction between a teacher and a student. Thus, the reporting procedure includes accountability, calculations, drawing graphs, and composing charts as of the progress of a class and a student, in particular.

Sociopolitical Implications for Assessment

According to the national interests in the quality of education, the urge of the benchmark assessment is quite distinctive. First of all, the results of the testing outline the whole intellectual performance of the state. The US governments share the idea of high-level education prospects for the prosperity of the nation. This means that the social line of education is stimulated and supported by the federal authority. This is why there are different programs for the provision of appropriate accommodations and exemptions for schools. Following the highest standards in the educational process, the state government seeks verification on each stage of its development. This concerns either public or non-public schools. According to the International Society for Technology in Education (2003), the results of the assessment are significant for determining possible “admission to the professional teaching component” (6). This is why the national survey on the educational issue corresponds to periodical revisions of the progress in this domain.

On the other hand, the social variable of the benchmark assessment is imposed on peoples’ awareness about the results. In return, it leads to supposed choices of parents about the enrollment of their children. The highest regarding the progress schools will then be prior in the district. This also means that administrations of schools with lower results are to use strategic methods for the improvement of the situation.

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Instructional and Learning Implications for Assessment

Looking at the sociopolitical variable about the assessment impacts, the main instruction is directed to teachers’ competence increase. In this respect, the administrations of schools attempt to follow the adequate yearly progress (AYP). Hence, the main thrust is implemented on the teachers’ knowledge, training, and experience background. Burns & Gibbons (2008) display the main steps on which an educator should concentrate special attention regarding the instructional implications:

  1. Identifying the measures to be used;
  2. Selecting an assessment window;
  3. Identifying a measurement team and training it;
  4. Gathering necessary materials;
  5. Identifying the procedures for data collection (19-20).

All in all, teachers should be professionals in their particular areas of knowledge. The proficiency derives from the training and readiness to improve the sustainability of a class. The idea of experience grounded on the scope of knowledge makes progress possible for a teacher. In the case of the particular student, the high range of a teacher’s framework as of the subject matters much.

References

Aaronson, A., Atkins, R., Carpenter, M. E. & Gall, K. (2002). Benchmark Assessment Questions. Web.

Benchmark Assessment System. (2003). Web.

Burch, P. (2009). Hidden Markets: The New Education Privatization. London: Taylor & Francis.

Burns, M. K. & Gibbons, K. (2008). Implementing Response-to-Intervention in Elementary and Secondary Schools: Procedures to Assure Scientific-Based Practices. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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Downey, C. J., English, F. W., Steffy, B. E. & Poston, W. K. (2008). 50 Ways to Close the Achievement Gap (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Epstein, B. J., Nach, R. & Bragg, S. M. (2009). Wiley GAAP: Interpretation and Application of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles 2010 (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

International Society for Technology in Education, Nets Project. (2003). Resources for assessment. Washington, DC: ISTE.

Kelly, M. G. & Haber, J. (2006). Resources for student assessment. Washington, DC: ISTE.

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