Educators are continually looking for ways to improve student learning: Are we teaching what we think we are teaching? Are students learning what they are
supposed to be learning? Answers to these questions are complex, but they can be approached from two perspectives: standards and measurement. Standards
define the knowledge and skills that children should acquire by specific ages or grade levels. Measurement—including appropriate, valid, reliable
testing—is an important component in determining whether students are meeting those standards.
Of course, part of the complexity of the issue stems from the fact that curricular priorities vary widely between states, school districts, schools, and
even individual teachers. As part of the ongoing education reform movement in the United States, federal agencies, national teacher associations, state
agencies, school districts, and education experts from academia have all defined standards that they believe students should meet. One of the most widely
adopted sets of standards is Common Core.
Launched in 2009, Common Core is an initiative by governors and state commissioners of education through their
membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. As described on its Web site,
Common Core is an effort to take the best from the various state standards that have been developed over the past two decades and create language arts and
math standards that work for students all across the country. Supporters of Common Core emphasize that the standards are research and evidence based, that
they are aligned with college and career expectations, and that they are centered on “rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order
thinking skills” (www.commoncorestandards.org). The Common Core Web site includes a brief video introduction; you can also read the standards themselves on the site.
Of course, not everyone agrees that the Common Core standards represent appropriate goals for all students. In a 2012
in the Washington Post, veteran educator and curriculum designer Marion Brady outlines some major problems with Common Core. Brady asserts that
the standards ignore the main reason for poor student performance, namely, poverty; that the standards falsely assume that what students need to know is
covered by traditional language arts and math curriculum; and that the standards discourage innovation and fail to evaluate complex thought.
Regardless of which side of the fence educators may find themselves on, the reality is that many states have embraced Common Core and schools are being
asked to implement the standards—and measure student progress toward them.
In addition to Common Core and state standards, many schools have adopted standards in specific content areas, including those developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Additional requirements based on participation in programs like Reading First (part of the No Child Left Behind initiative) complicate curriculum decisions even further. Of course, there is a
great deal of overlap among the standards.
To make sense of all the requirements and ultimately improve learning, schools need tools to help them measure student progress toward these goals. This is
where comprehensive achievement testing comes in: Educators need valid, reliable achievement tests that measure students against the most up-to-date
standards that their states and school districts require.
The Academic Achievement Battery™ (AAB™) is a new achievement test from PAR that
was developed specifically with the most up-to-date Common Core, NCTM, NCTE, and Reading First standards in mind. The comprehensive form, which takes about 90 minutes to administer, includes 15
subtests that measure 7 key areas of achievement: Basic Reading, Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension, Expressive Communication, Written
Expression, Mathematical Calculation, and Mathematical Reasoning. The screening form, which takes less than 30 minutes to administer, uses four
subtests to provide a snapshot of a student’s performance in reading, spelling, writing, and math.
The AAB is…
An overview of the AAB and a walk-through of its administration will be available on PAR’s new Training Portal, which will be launching in November. Check
the PAR Web site (www.parinc.com) next month for all the details about this exciting new tool.
In summary, the AAB is a comprehensive, up-to-date solution that will redefine the way achievement is measured. To learn more about the AAB and to take
advantage of special preorder pricing and volume discounts, please visit www.parinc.com or call one of our Customer Service Specialists at 1.800.338.8378.
From its modest beginnings in Bob and Cathy Smith's home years ago, PAR has grown into a leading publisher of psychological assessment materials designed to help our customers better serve their clients.