Personalized Learning Series: CAASPP Testing’s Role in Higher-Quality Learning

Posted by: District 2 years, 3 months ago

Personalized Learning Series: CAASPP Testing’s Role in Higher-Quality Learning

Today marks an exciting time in the world of education. We now understand more than ever about the learning process and have tools to achieve a more personalized form of education. 

As you may be aware, in the spring of 2015 Coronado School District students took part in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) testing. This new computer-based test system replaces the former paper-based tests for English language arts and mathematics.

What you might not be as familiar with is why we adopted a new testing system. 

This test represents a dramatic shift in the district in the way we approach learning. We call it the “Growth Mindset.” 

"Both teachers and students alike need to learn how to develop new habits of mind, a growth mindset, and to understand what it takes to be successful in a student-centered, personalized learning environment in which their roles are evolving.”

This ideology emerged out of the learning and education research surfacing over the last 10 years. No longer do we believe that learners have a predisposition to learn certain topics over other topics, such as math over reading. Research proves that you can learn anything at any age as long as you are willing to commit the time and have the drive to learn the material.

The biggest impact came from the discovery in brain research that learning stems from making mistakes and struggling with material. This process creates a higher level learning than when you get something right initially or memorize material.

Additionally, each brain is unique. This means your learning style varies from the person next to you. When applying this knowledge to education, if the same type of teaching method is present throughout all the courses, you eliminate the ability for many students to learn.

This is why the adoption of the growth mindset is so pivotal for Coronado Unified School District.

We are working to leave behind the old school tactic of regurgitation and work toward the highest level of cognitive learning—mastery. Students need to prepare for college and the work force by becoming critical consumers. More so than ever, the ability to recall facts falls flat. With a smart phone in every hand, the answer can be retrieved in moments. 

Students need to be strong readers, great communicators, strategic problem solvers, and have the ability to analyze content.

The introduction of the CAASPP testing system is one element of the districts shift to better prepare students. We call this new style of teaching personalized learning. Over the next few months, you will see an entire series dedicated to the different elements of personalized learning we are implementing.

CAASPP Testing Basics  

Last spring students in grades 3-8 and 11 took the CAASPP English, language arts and math tests. Grades 5, 8, and 10 took that CAASPP test in addition to the California Standards science test. A science test aligned to newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards will not be ready for about three years.

The new system had been in a testing period for two years prior. The testing completed in the spring was the first official testing period.

Branching away from the sterile bubble tests with a static format, these adaptive tests build unique questions based on how the students answer. If a 4th grade student successfully answers multiple 4th grade level questions right, the test will introduce higher-level questions. It adjusts the level based on where the student shows success.

While these tests give a comprehensive view of a child’s ability, they are best used as a snapshot of where a student is along the path to college and career-readiness.

To better understand how to interpret the results, we encourage parents to educate themselves on the assessments, learn about California’s new standards and how the two items are related. It also helps to understand what it means to be at standard, near standard, and above standard.

National Implications

For the first time in history, states across the nation have banned together to have common standards. In the past you had 50 states with 50 different standards. In short, that didn’t work.

The Common Core initiative addressed just that, with individual states adopting these common standards in the core subject areas of English language arts and mathematics, creating a better understanding of achievement across the U.S. Forty-two states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adopted the Common Core State Standards.  There are two different testing systems. California and 21 other states joined Smarter Balanced (which is the main component of the CAASPP system) while other states joined the PARCC system.

This creates an economy of scale in education. The ability to compare testing results across the nation will help educators understand how their students relate to other students, evaluate instruction practices, and ultimately grow into the best education system possible. 

Learn More

If you have any questions about the Growth Mindset, Common Core, CAASPP or personalized learning, we would like to invite you to our information panels this fall. 

We would like to invite you to our information panels this fall. We will have different educators and members from the district to answer questions, talk about different facets of these areas, and showcase tools we have to further advance your child’s education.