Searching for the “Just Right” Benchmark Assessment

I have spent the last few weeks discussing IAGDs, writing SLOs and communicating with administrators through Bloomboard, the professional growth platform my district is currently using.  The acronyms can by dizzying and learning a new platform can be frustrating, but this is a reality for teachers today.

In this post, I would like to share some online assessments I have reviewed while searching for the right tools to measure my students’ growth.  Scroll down to see a summary of my findings.

My Student Learning Objectives must be measured with two Indicators of Academic Growth and Development.  These indicators are assessments that are given three times a year to measure student progress.  They can be standardized or non-standardized, and they can include teacher-created assessments.

After giving assessments last year that, in some cases, took my students three class periods to finish (that’s three days times three times per year – for just one assessment!), I began searching for tools that would give me a quick snapshot of student progress in one class period.  I am lucky to work in a district that gives teachers the flexibility to problem solve and make changes when something is not working.  Below are three tools I researched, with some comments about each one.

I have known about Newsela for a long time, but had not used it often.  On Newsela, you can have students read the same article written at different levels, so it makes it very easy to differentiate.  What I did not know it that Newsela has an assessment tool built in to some of their articles.  It is easy to find an article for your students.  For example, I searched for 7th grade articles that have quizzes and focus on text structure.  There were 20 results.  The downside?  Each quiz has only four multiple choice questions.  While I will use Newsela in class, I was looking for something more robust for my IAGD.

Edmodo Snapshots
New to Edmodo this year, Snapshots allows teachers to create assessments by choosing which Common Core Standards to measure.  Just click on the standards, and a quiz will be created on Edmodo with reading passages and four multiple choice questions for each standard checked.  This was very easy to use, but again, it was not exactly what I needed for my IAGD.

When I chose two Reading for Literature standards, an assessment was created with eight multiple choice questions.  The students had to read two separate five-page stories to answer just eight questions.  Also, Snapshots automatically sends different versions of the assessment to each student in the class, so they will not all have the same passages or questions.  I have explored other snapshots for skills such as spelling and grammar, and I am mostly disappointed with the questions.
I finally found this site after many hours of exploring others. seemed just right for the type of benchmark assessment I wanted to give my students.  You can easily search for passages based on the topic, type (literary or informational), Lexile Level, grade level, subject area and skill or strategy being tested.  Best of all, each of the passages comes with a set of ten questions, both multiple choice and open-ended, and the passages I reviewed were all about 1-2 pages long.  Perfect for a one-class-period assessment.

The only downside I found with was that teachers cannot assign the assessment online.  I was able to get around this, however, by taking the assessment and typing it into Edmodo. Besides having Edmodo score it for me, I was also able to modify the questions to suit my needs.  I wanted to focus on certain standards to match my SLO, so changing the questions was easy.  My students had the experience of taking an online assessment, and I was able to tailor it to match my SLO – the best of both worlds.

As promised, here is a summary of my findings.

Mult. Choice
Open- Ended
# of Questions
Passage Length
4 per article
1-2 pages per standard
Same article offered in various Lexile Levels
4 per standard
4-5 pages per standard
Separate articles for each standard; not all students receive the same quiz
10 per article
1-2 pages
Assessment not online, but can be typed into Edmodo, Google Forms, etc., and customized.

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