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Assessment FAQ

Cedar Park Elementary School Assessments FAQ

Why does Cedar Park Teach to the Common Core State Standards and administer Standardized Assessments?

Because Cedar Park is a public school operating within Seattle Public Schools operating within Washington State.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were adopted by Washington State in 2011. All public schools in the Seattle Public School District are mandated in aligning instruction to the CCSS, which aim to develop common learning expectations for K-12 students across the country. Currently, 48 states have begun implementing CCSS.

Additionally, in 2014-15, Washington state began using Smarter Balanced assessments for students in grades 3 to 8 and 10/11 as a replacement for the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE). These annual assessments, given in the spring, measure student proficiency in College and Career Readiness Standards (Common Core) in math and English language arts (reading, writing, listening and research skills).

For more information, please visit the Common Core State Standards website.

Does Cedar Park “Teach to the Test”?

Cedar Park does not teach only content tied to any one specific test.Cedar Park staff focuses on delivering high-quality learning experiences for students aligned circularly (using District adopted curriculums to ensure instructional consistency between classrooms) and to the Common Core State Standards.

Lessons taught throughout a student’s K-5 experience should clearly build on the standards and be comprised of opportunities to acquire new knowledge, practice with more complexity (guided and independently), and then apply this learning in broader cross-curricular contexts. This intentionality supports teachers in implementing classroom instruction that spirals a students’ knowledge acquisition and knowledge demonstration over the course of time (both that instructional year and over time in the K-5 program). This intentionality also allows teachers to shape formative and summative assessment opportunities to reflect how students are asked to demonstrate skills within the CCSS (and therefore on Standardized Assessments linked to the CCSS).

Cedar Park prioritizes the quality of our instructional program overall and spends only a small portion of time (hours verses days or weeks) within the assessment window of actual test prep practice to reduce anxiety for students during the actual assessment by ensuring they are familiar with the format, digital tools, and layout.

Does Cedar Park integrate technology in the classroom only for the purpose of “Teaching to the Test”?

Cedar Park integrates meaningful student technology use in the classroom to…

  • Provide students with a variety of creative opportunities for connectivity, collaboration and communication/self-expression (including in digital formats) tobuild a foundation for future college and career readiness skills
  • Acquire knowledge from a variety or resources (including digital formats) to increase literacy, research, and problem-solving skills
  • Support students learning and technology skill acquisition in a 21st Century classroom environment (as outlined by the21st Century Ed Tech Standards)
  • Support students in building strong independent work habits supported by technology tools

As a staff, we strive for our technology integration to be focused on supporting student practice verses replacing direct instruction and physical practice. Classrooms integrate programs such as Raz-Kids (literacy) and IXL (math) as a part of independent work stations to support student practice. For example, a kindergartener digitally interacting with a leveled book on Raz-Kids (which is read to them) allows them a chance to practice discrete skills (such as comprehension and answering questions, which the teacher can also see and review) without direct adult support, in contrast to the physical reading done independently where students are bringing phonics, decoding, and comprehension skills together all at once interacting with a physical book.

Additionally, our technology use is driven by the context of the activity. For example, 1st grade students used a variety of technology mediums to support their research and learning during our Marine Biology Expeditionary Learning, but their final projects were hand-produced art pieces culminating their learning. For other projects, a digital tool was the right tool to convey information to an audience in a visually engaging and efficient way. Over the course of a student’s K-5 program, they will build on and acquire a variety of technology skills they can use to communicate with the world around them.

Learn more about Technology use at Cedar Park.

How is this assessment information used and shared with students?

The results of standardized assessment(s), combined with additional classroom formative/summative data, can indicate strengths in a given skill area or learning opportunity(s) that may need additional supports. Mostly, these standardized results give a school feedback on the overall effectiveness of its instructional program.

Since these scores are available through the SOURCE or mailed home, it is up to parents to determine if they will share the scores with their child. Staff typically reviews learning strengths/opportunities based on the assessment results rather than focusing on a numerical score the student would have no context for.