Assessments in the MPSD

Assessment Descriptions
In the MPSD, the term assessment refers to the wide variety of methods that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, and skill acquisition of students from preschool through high school.  Below is a brief description of the assessments administered in the Manitowoc Public Schools, with guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. 

What is ACCESS?

ACCESS for ELLs® stands for Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners and is designed to measure English language proficiency in grades K-12. It is a large-scale test that addresses the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) Consortium’s English Language Proficiency Standards that form the core of Wisconsin’s approach to instructing and testing English language learners.

What is the ACT?
The ACT® college readiness assessment is a curriculum- and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students’ academic readiness for college.  Administered to all 11th graders, the ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break (or just over four hours if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing). Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes (plus 30 minutes if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing).  ACT results are accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the US.

 What is ACT Aspire? 
Administered to grades 9-10 in fall and spring, ACT Aspire assesses student readiness in English, math, reading, science, and writing. ACT Aspire is an online assessment in Wisconsin except for students who require accommodations through Braille, Large Print or American Sign Language who will take ACT Aspire in a paper and pencil format.

What is ACT WorkKeys? 
ACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system given to 11th graders that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This test series measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs.

As part of ACT's Work Readiness System, ACT WorkKeys has helped millions of people in high schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies build their skills to increase global competitiveness and develop successful career pathways.

Successful completion of ACT WorkKeys assessments in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information can lead to earning ACT's National Career Readiness Certificate, a portable credential earned by more than 2.3 million people across the United States.

What is Assessing Mathematical Understanding?
Assessing Mathematical Understanding is a set of mathematics assessments for K-1 students that provides both cumulative data about students’ progress over time and in-depth diagnostic information. Aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, it is intended as a tool to help teachers track student progress, identify particular difficulties, and generally inform instructional planning.

Goals of Assessing Mathematical Understanding include:
To enhance teachers’ ability to meet individual student needs,
(2) To facilitate teacher collaboration around student learning and
(3) To promote student learning in mathematics

What is First Steps?
First Steps is a diagnostic tool for math that assesses the five areas mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). This fun screening instrument is ideal for identifying preschoolers who are at risk for developmental delays. The activities are enjoyable and accommodate children moving around the room during testing to create a more natural situation. The 12 subtests are presented as games to motivate children and put them at ease.  The twelve subtests are divided into three of the five domains: Cognition, Communication and Motor. The optional Social-Emotional Scale and Adaptive Behavior Checklist address the fourth and fifth domains.  The First Step reports classify children as 'Within Acceptable Limits', 'Caution' (mild to moderate developmental delays), or 'At Risk' (for developmental delays).

What is Fountas & Pinnell?
F&P is used as a universal screener in grades K-3 and is given three times a year.  It is also used for further diagnosis in grades 4-8.  It is a benchmark assessment system that is a series of texts that can be used to identify a student's current reading level and progress along a gradient of text levels over time. The word "benchmark" means a standard against which to measure something.

For example, a 1st grade educator may administer the Fountas and Pinnell assessments to determine a student’s reading level at the beginning of the year. The student may demonstrate that they read at the “C” level, but the teacher knows that to be on target to perform at grade level, that student needs to reach level “J” by the end of the year. The teacher may set short term goals to get the student to Level “G” by the semester, and level “J” by the end. The educator assesses the student’s reading level periodically (progress monitoring), and makes adjustments to his or her instruction based on the student’s progress.

What is PALS?
The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is a research based screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring tool for students in grades 4K through 2nd grade. Wisconsin teachers use PALS to identify students at risk of developing reading difficulties, diagnose students' knowledge of literacy fundamentals, monitor progress, and plan instruction that targets students' needs.

ForwardWhat is the Wisconsin Forward Exam?

Wisconsin Forward Exam is administered in English Language Arts and math in grades 3 through 8, in science in grades 4 and 8 and in social studies in 4, 8, and 10th grades.  This test will gauge how well students are mastering the WI State Standards.  


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