Nebraska Revised Statute 79-760.03 requires the State Board of Education to “implement a statewide system for the assessment of student learning and for reporting the performance of school districts and learning communities…” The assessment and reporting system shall measure student knowledge of the required academic content standards for reading, writing, mathematics, and science. The results of the statewide assessment are publicly reported, provide information to the public and policy makers, and provide a comparison among Nebraska public schools.
The State Board of Education recognizes the importance of assessment within quality teaching and learning systems. In addition to the requirements of law, the State Board of Education believes schools and districts should utilize a balanced assessment system that includes formative, interim, and summative assessments to inform instruction and program development, monitor progress, and evaluate student learning for all content areas and grade levels. Rule 10 highlights the important role assessment plays within the instructional process:
“Assessment procedures and results assist teachers in planning and providing appropriate instruction for all students. Assessment results also provide information for monitoring program success, and for reporting to parents, policymakers, and the community. Schools periodically review procedures to improve assessment quality and improve student learning. The information assists schools in establishing and achieving improvement goals.”
As outlined in the State Board of Education and Nebraska Department of Education Strategic Vision and Direction, assessments are used to measure and help improve student achievement by informing instruction. This outcome statement should be considered when developing, adopting, and maintaining balanced assessment systems. In addition, the following principles guide the continuous improvement of balanced assessment systems utilized by districts and supported by NDE.
Assessment should be:
- Focused on improved student learning: Measures growth to inform and guide instruction
- Purposeful: Utilizes a design that accomplishes articulated purpose(s)
- High quality: Aligns to state-approved content area standards and measures higher order thinking skills
- Time limited: Efficient while maximizing instructional time
- Fair: Free from bias and provides equitable access for all students including English Language Learners and students with disabilities
- Transparent to stakeholders: Provides information that is timely, understandable, and easily accessible to students, teachers, parents, and policy-makers
All NDE work undertaken in the efforts to develop, adopt, or maintain a statewide assessment system or support districts in balanced assessment efforts should be informed by these guidelines. The NDE will engage with Nebraska educators to achieve balanced assessment systems for the benefit of all Nebraska students.