Diagnostic assessments can play a crucial role in any state’s assessment system. LEAP 360, which is part of Louisiana’s comprehensive assessment system, is a collection of optional, high-quality assessments that help educators monitor student learning and address student needs as they proceed through the curriculum.

The diagnostic assessments specifically help determine student readiness for new coursework, and they assist teachers in setting meaningful and ambitious goals. The assessments are given at the start of the school year or course.

This blog post explores how the Louisiana Department of Education, with support from WestEd assessment experts under contract to Data Recognition Corporation, developed content for diagnostic assessments in English language arts and mathematics for grades 3 through 8.

Gauging English Language Arts and Math Mastery With Diverse Test Items

For the English language arts assessment, WestEd content experts developed items using readily accessible and moderately complex texts. In math, the items assess students’ mastery of prerequisite standards for the major coursework. They are not pretests that determine preexisting content knowledge.

The English language arts assessment includes four types of questions: multiple-choice; two-part, evidence-based selected response; extended response; and essay prompts.

  • The multiple-choice questions require students to pick a single correct answer.
  • The two-part, evidence-based selected response measures reading comprehension and asks for supporting evidence.
  • The extended response requires students to write about a given text to demonstrate their understanding.
  • The essay prompts include opinion/argument, expository, and narrative types and require students to craft an argument, write an expository response, or create a narrative related to a given text.

The mathematics diagnostic assessments evaluate students’ fluency in and understanding and application of mathematical concepts, as well as their written arguments, critiques of reasoning, and application of these mathematical concepts in a real-world context. The assessment items are aligned with the Louisiana Student Standards for Mathematical Practice and include multiple-choice and constructed-response questions.

In addition to developing the assessment content, WestEd’s assessment team provided scoring materials to guide teachers in grading student responses. This ensured that teachers had a standardized way of evaluating student responses, making it easier to accurately measure student progress and provide feedback to help students improve their learning outcomes. Each assessment had an answer key with alignment information and a scoring guide that included rubrics for scoring written responses and sample student responses.

As part of Louisiana’s comprehensive assessment system (which includes interim assessments and a bank of high-quality questions that teachers can access as an instructional resource throughout the school year), the diagnostic assessments provide valuable insights into student learning and allow teachers to offer targeted support to each student.

Visit the LEAP 360 website to learn more.

The assessments are made available through the Data Recognition Corporation’s INSIGHT platform.

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