Ensuring Equity in Supporting Students on Their Path to Progress

This article is a repost from CCSSO’s March 16 Chiefline issue.

Ensuring greater equity and opportunity for all students is the driving goal of educators, districts, and states. Reaching this goal is tied to educators’ ability to accurately pinpoint where each child is doing well and where they may need additional support.

As a major support system for educators, Smarter Balanced helps states and districts achieve an equitable education system. By tapping into multiple sources of reliable, aligned, and comprehensive tools throughout the school year, educators can better determine the need for shifts in instructional content, pace, and approach.

Navigating different assessments can be challenging. Earlier this year, Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction in Nevada shared how their assessment system is a critical part of their efforts to create an equitable education system. Through a connected system of dynamic tools that build on each other to support students on their path to progress, educators can use assessment tools to gather information about student learning throughout the school year.

For example, interim assessments provide educators a range of tools to monitor student learning and achievement according to specific learning goals and academic standards. Educators can use the findings to guide classroom instruction to advance students’ progress. In Nevada and in other states, Tools for Teachers provides lessons, activities, and tailored instructional strategies as well as professional development resources that ensure diverse learners get the support they need to thrive.

More specifically, through the Interim Connections Playlists, teachers find instructional supports that match student performance on the interim assessment blocks. Tools like these allow educators to customize teaching to
maximize each student’s opportunities to learn.

Equity and accessibility must be at the center of all assessment efforts. High quality integrated tools can enhance accessibility and equity to ensure that students with diverse learning needs can meaningfully participate in assessments, and that the assessments will in turn provide valid, reliable, and fair measures of their achievement and growth. Tests should be designed so that students who take them—including students who are learning English for the first time or have special needs—can meaningfully participate in the tests.

By using assessment results to support classroom instruction and creating personalized learning, states like Nevada are finding they are in a better position to meet each student exactly where they are and promote equitable growth. As we work to help students recover from disruptions in learning, let’s work together to use every resource at our disposal to help ensure students have an equal opportunity for success.