For about ten years, I worked for two school districts as the AIMS web manager. Not only did I arrange all the benchmark assessments for grades kindergarten through eighth grade, but I spent considerable time with all of the educators to review the quality information that each assessment provided us.
For those of you unaware, almost all school districts, whether private or public, use some benchmark assessment for at least the reading, math, and writing subjects three times a year. AIMSweb is just one company that provides benchmark assessments, but there are numerous others available as well.
Usually, the benchmark assessments will be given in September, January, and May every year. The standardized assessments provide an available amount of data on how well the students perform in these subject areas compared to the rest of the grade level students at that school, in the state, and across the country. It is useful as it offers a snapshot of statistics that can identify the gifted and the struggling students in a relatively quick manner.
Of course, this information should not be your only way to identify students in need, but it should put students on the radar that have probably been overlooked sometimes in the past.
Challenging the Gifted and Assisting the Struggling
Use these benchmark assessments to gauge how well the student stacks up against the rest. If a student is placing in the bottom 25th percentile in a particular subject for a benchmark, provide them additional help to try to make their current weakness a strength down the road.
If a student is placing in the top 25th percentile for a subject, challenge them to use their strength to produce even better work. For instance, if they are reading at an 8th-grade level while they are currently in 5th grade, provide them some novels above their current grade level.
Assess Again If There Are Questions
If you ever doubt the validity of the benchmark score, it is okay to assess them again. There is a thing called progress monitoring that can be completed every few weeks with each student to monitor if they are improving or still struggling. The progress monitoring assessment is hugely similar to the benchmark assessment to compare two very similar items.
Use Additional Help If Needed
Suppose you are a parent or an educator that feels a student can benefit from receiving additional help for a specific subject. In that case, iAchieve offers online tutoring across the globe for children of all ages and topics. For example, if the benchmark assessments detail that a child is struggling in the lower 10th percentile, they may need more assistance than their classroom teacher can provide one-on-one. A qualified tutor could help make up the difference and get that student back to where they need to be academically.