Falls Church City Public Schools
School Year 2005-06
Released: October 2006
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The testing program in the Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS) is comprised of a number of assessments. These include tests that are locally administered as well as tests that conform to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) testing requirements.
Tests Required by FCCPS
Several tests are administered locally, although not required to meet the State's accreditation and/or to adhere to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) progress formulae. Among these are tests that are administered and scored at the local school, while others are processed through the division-wide system.
School Administered Tests
The Development Reading Assessment (DRA) is administered and scored at the schools housing students at first and second grade – Mt. Daniel and Thomas Jefferson, respectively. There are two administrations - Fall and Spring. Its publishers have determined that the DRA is a “stand-alone” assessment that adjusts to different abilities and testing levels. It is used to determine the independent reading level of students – the level at which instruction should be delivered. The assessment requires the examiner to keep a “running record” of a student’s reading as she/he progresses through a passage. The examiner makes a note of uncorrected miscues, the student’s phrasing, fluency and intonation as well as how the student attempts to solve issues that arise during the reading. The examiner then determines an accuracy rate for the student. Based on the student’s retelling of the passage, his/her responses to specified questions or prompts and the extrapolation to other situations, the level of comprehension may be determined. Thus a student’s reading preferences and instructional level (from emergent and early, through transitional to fluent) may be ascertained.
The Quality Reading Inventory (QRI) is another reading assessment – administered to grades 3 through 5. As with the DRA, the QRI is given in both the Fall and Spring. Prior to reading, questions are posed to the student to determine his/her prior knowledge – such as familiarity with the passage and concepts. After exposure to the narrative and expository passages, the student must respond to explicit and implicit questions as well as retelling and look-backs (student searches the text to correct prior wrong answers). Thus word identification, fluency and comprehension may be established. The protocol provides procedures for assessing reading strategies and suggestions for intervention, as necessary.
Centrally Administered Assessments
The Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) is typically administered in the Fall to students in grades 1 and 3. In Fall 2005, the upgraded Form 6 was given to students in first grade, while third graders continued to be assessed on the Form 5 version. Regardless of form type, its developers indicate that the CogAT appraises cognitive development – general and specific reasoning abilities as well as efficiency of processes and strategies for learning new tasks and solving problems in the absence of direct instruction. It purports to measure verbal reasoning (ability to infer meaning of words in context and to make inferences such as the sequence of activities), quantitative reasoning (the ability to determine relationships as well as solve simple problems) and non-verbal reasoning (the ability to determine the rule that explains relationships and make simple extrapolations). It helps to identify differences in predicted versus observed student achievement and helps staff organize instruction to meet a variety of learning styles, based on the relative strengths of the three different reasoning abilities. Refer to Lohman and Hagen (2001) for further details.
Another reading assessment is the Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test (SDRT), which is used with seventh graders. The test is applied in the Fall. This is a norm-referenced evaluation, which compares students’ reading levels to national grade-level groups. Its developers indicate that the SDRT evaluates students for program placement, determines reading strengths and weaknesses for program planning and measures student progress or the effectiveness of instructional programs. At this grade-level, the test covers vocabulary (synonyms, classifications, word parts and content-based words), comprehension (recreational, informational and functional reading passages used for initial understanding, interpretation and process strategies) and scanning (scan two dense, lengthy texts for information to answer preceding questions).
The Stanford Achievement Tests, tenth edition (Stanford 10), are also administered in the Fall to students in grades 4, 6 and 9. They are administered mid-year to second graders. These assessments (formerly Stanford 9) had been a part of the State’s accountability program and had been given to students in the Fall of the year immediately following their grades 3, 5 and 8 assessments. The tests, thereby, provided national reference for the VDOE’s primary accreditation package – the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments. With the expansion of the SOL program, the State discontinued the use of the Stanford 9. However, some Divisions continued the use of these tests in their local program. In the FCCPS, the upgraded Stanford 10 was adopted in Fall 2004. It is comprised of multiple choice and open-ended questions that address basic understanding (explicitly stated information) and thinking skills (analysis, classification, evaluation and prediction). Five subtests (reading, mathematics, language arts, spelling and listening) are subsumed under the basic battery – given to grades 4 and 9. Science and social studies are added to form the complete battery (given at grades 2 and 6). Unlike its predecessor, the Stanford 10 is untimed.
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