By Joyce LEE, intern
Along with the major changes in the education world, including the new Common Core standards, students of the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) were surprised when given the i-Ready Universal Diagnostic Assessment. The Assessment embodies the new era of technology integrated with education, as students use computers and Google Chrome notebooks to take part in the multiple choice reading and mathematics test. The assessment was launched as a pilot test at Crescenta Valley High School, spanning three weeks from Sept. 2 to Sept. 19 in each student’s reading and mathematics classes.
The components of the i-Ready tests are to be adaptive for all students, align with the common core standards and predict student performance. The main objective is for the district to learn the proficiency levels of all of its students in mathematics and reading and set a common standard for instruction. This will be valuable when providing instruction and growth statistics over the year. In addition, it will encourage teachers to assist students who may need additional intervention on specific skills in these subjects.
“I believe the transition into technology-based testing, the i-Ready Assessment, is necessary as we are preparing our students for their futures in the 21st century. The i-Ready Assessment will provide our students with the opportunity to practice the skills needed to complete an adaptive assessment similar to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) state test,” GUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Lynn Marso said.
The i-Ready Assessment is just one component of the i-Ready program. The online instruction was written from the ground up based on the Common Core State Standards. It is an interactive assessment that adjusts its questions based on each student’s level of proficiency. This method of adaptive testing is similar to the tests students in grades 2-8 and 11 will be required to take in the spring, the SBAC and the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) assessment system.
This innovative assessment comes with a price. GUSD has signed a $3.4 million contract with the i-Ready program. Although the number seems overwhelming, the district will not suffer financial losses.
“We plan to stop spending money on other assessments. Instead, we will concentrate time, efforts and money on the i-Ready assessment,” GUSD Superintendent Richard Sheehan said.
Even so, many students and staff are confused as to why GUSD has decided to adopt the i-Ready Assessment, making the district one of the first to launch this program around the nation.
“The GUSD is one of the 10 research districts, which means that the officials work directly with the curriculum advisors. There is a direct communication system in place that allows school district members to give feedback and suggest modifications for the future assessments.
“(GUSD) is a learning organization. The i-Ready Assessment is new so there were some difficulties we had to overcome. We could have rolled out better but we must keep in mind that the i-Ready Assessment is a learning process,” Sheehan said. “We may get to the point when we decide students above ninth grade will not partake in the assessment, or we may create specialized instruction in certain areas. Regardless, we will fulfill our jobs in providing the best education for our students.”