Pearson Inform and Benchmark
Executive summaries of recent district installations.
Name: Dr. Antony Lewis, assistant principal
School: Lake Park (FL) Elementary School
What they use: Princeton Online Review
How my school uses it: We use the online common assessments to monitor individual students. Mini-assessments can also be assigned to students who may be struggling in a specific standard.
Why I like it: The quality of the reports. The information is right at teachers’ fingertips, saving time they would otherwise spend disaggregating common-assessment data manually.
What I wish it could do: Specific reports for subgroups of students, either within grade levels or across grade levels, would provide another level of data to help all students succeed.
Name: Vickie Markavitch, superintendent, and Ernie Bower, consultant, Research Evaluation and Assessment
School: Oakland (MI) Schools
What they use: Pearson Inform and Benchmark
How our district uses it: Both programs handle assessment tasks for 230,000 students. Benchmark enables faculty to produce formative and summative tests. Inform offers web-based data analysis that reports the results. The power of these tools helps teachers use student performance data to drive instruction.
Why we like it: There is a great deal of customization available with the programs. One of our districts now uses them for 90% of its classes—and not just in the core curriculum. The programs do the nitty-gritty work so teachers can focus on student learning and instructional decision-making.
What we wish it could do: Assess real writing. The technology may not be available yet, but we would like to see better writing assessments.
Name: Dr. Andy Riggle, assistant superintendent, Instruction, Accountability, and School Improvement
School: Hilliard (OH) City Schools
What they use: Harcourt Assessment Learnia
How my district uses it: We are piloting the Learnia program in five elementary schools, two sixth-grade schools, and three seventh-and-eighth-grade schools. We use the Class View summative-assessment component to get an overall view of the students in the fall and then as a posttest in late winter/early spring. Some of our teachers also use the Class Links formative-assessment component for mini-assessments every two to three weeks.
Why I like it: The data analysis shows by strand or content area who did well, intermediately, or not as well. The program provides a great deal of evaluative data. We can drill down to individual schools, classrooms, students, or evaluate the district as a whole.
What I wish it could do: Because this is a pilot program, we’re still learning. We would like to be able to utilize the Class Links on a more regular basis.
Name: Janet Filbin, director, Assessment & Research
School: Jefferson County (CO) Public Schools
What they use: Acuity and Yearly Progress Pro
How my district uses it: We piloted Acuity to help benchmark students at the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, and the end of the year. The reports provide teachers with information about their students’ growth toward the state standards.
Why I like it: Acuity can identify students that are struggling, as well as instructional gaps in concepts. It provides item-level response information for both the class and the individual students. The benchmark assessment also informs administrators and teachers of gaps in curriculum, so they can prioritize those areas and identify an instructional methodology to reteach those concepts.
What I wish it could do: I’d like to see more integration of the benchmark and progress-monitoring programs.
Christine Weiser is a writer and editor who has reported on K-12 education technology for more than 15 years.