In the United States of America, the elementary level of education focuses on basic academic and socialization attainment for the learners. At that level, the learners are exposed to a wide range of skills, knowledge, and behavior that prepare them for the advanced levels of education. Throughout the country, various standardized tests are carried out for various reasons to ensure that the curriculum delivered is of benefit to individual learners (Polat, Zarecky-Hodge & Schreiber, 2016). Such tests are subject-based, for instance, elementary school learners do basic arithmetic as well as rudimentary algebraic mathematics. Another important principle is English proficiency; here, basic vocabulary, spelling, and grammar are taught. The individual states identify the learning standards and the standardized tests to which the learners are exposed. This is done for all the areas of the curriculum including social studies, reading, fine art, physical development, science, and mathematics. Even though the concept of state learning standards has been in existence for a long time, the No Child Left Behind Act mandates every state to ensure standards in education at all levels. For the success of education programs in Georgia, the purpose of tests such as ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, the Georgia Alternate Assessment, Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills, and the GKIDS Readiness Check are clearly defined.
ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is considered a suite of large-scale and secure English language assessments. This test is a primary benefit for the WIDA Consortium member states. It is meant for the learners who have been identified as language learners from the kindergarten level of education through to the twelfth-grade students. The assessment is important for the English Language Learners (ELLs) as it is used in monitoring the individual learner's progress in their mastery of the various aspects of the English language (WIDA, 2018). Since English as a language has become very important in both national and international cooperation, it is important that the educators ensure that the learners specializing in it find the best way to better themselves individually in the subject. Like any other assessment, the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is done under supervision to ensure that each learner only applies what he or she learned and had mastered so far (Polat, Zarecky-Hodge & Schreiber, 2016). The assessment is carried out in a way that meets the United States federal requirements of the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) (WIDA, 2018). This act requires monitoring and availing of reports on the progress of the ELLs English Language proficiency. The test is also designed to correspond to the development standards of WIDA on English language learning. The test includes speaking, listening, writing, and reading as the language domains to achieve all the aspects of English language learning. For that reason, the test is a necessary intervention in improving the standards of English learning initiatives in Georgia State.
The GAA (Georgia Alternate Assessment) is one of the important components of student assessment as it includes all learners in elementary and secondary education levels. This test is standardized for both learners with cognitive disabilities and those with no learning abilities. One of the requirements of the Georgia State education program is to achieve quality education for all learners; this can only be achieved by assessing all learners for their attempts and successes in meeting the academic standards set for them. The assessment is achieved by setting a standard curriculum for all the learners, and then they are assessed on the same (Nesbit-McBride, 2018). The test is statewide; it is also referred to as an alternate assessment. The tests are done in consideration of the learners with a disability as they also deserve a chance at education and the improvements that need to be made for the betterment of their learning processes depend on their achievement on the tests. Being that the test is statewide, it is considered as one of the most important examinations used in improving the entire education system of the state. The educators and the administrators use the results of the test to ensure that elementary education is improved where there are weaknesses (Nesbit-McBride, 2018). This can be achieved by putting in more resources to provide materials that can assist the learners to better their performances.
GKIDS or Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills is an assessment meant to provide continuous information for diagnostics regarding the development of skills in mathematics, English-language, social/personal development, social studies, science, and arts among others. The test also helps in the development of the approaches to learning. This test is important for young learners as it provides an opportunity for them to show their progress in terms of learning in all the subjects taught (Barker, 2018). Since the tests are continuous or ongoing, the learners and their teachers can monitor progress and make adjustments based on the continuous results from the tests. Besides, GKIDS provides a summative result of the performance of individual learners on the subjects at the end of the year (Barker, 2018). This end-year result determines the level of readiness among the learners' for the first grade. The assessment is important as it serves as both a summative and formative assessment tool for the learners. When learners are taught, and no assessment is done, the educators may only assume the learners understand the content. However, with the GKIDS assessment, they can correctly assess and judge the abilities of the learners as well as their readiness for the next level of their studies.
The GKIDS Readiness Check is a newly formed component of the Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Development. The assessment is designed for administration during the first six weeks of the year. The requirements for the GKIDS Readiness Check are in line with the GELDS (Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards) (Bable, 2018). It also correlates to the mandated content standards for kindergarten education, set by the state education department. The purpose of the assessment is the provision of information about the set of skills for learners entering kindergarten. The assessment is used in highlighting the skills and knowledge critical for the success of kindergarten learners. This assessment is solely used as a guide for instructions. Some of the characteristics of the assessment that makes it appropriate for the learners is that it is designed to research-based best practices, and is developmentally appropriate for young learners. The assessment results also help the instructors in the individualization of the instructions for the learners (Bable, 2018). It is therefore important that the assessment is taken before the learners' educational needs are set. This is because the individual students have different preferences, capabilities, and interests that need to be observed and included in the educational instructions appropriately.
The main purpose of the Student Assessment Program in Georgia State is to ensure that the measurement of learners' achievements in all the state-adopted content as well as uniform efforts among the learners is achieved. The results of the tests can be used in the identification of students' strengths and weaknesses as far as content mastery is concerned. The educators also use such results as feedback for the instructional feedback. Besides, the districts within Georgia State need the results to help in setting priorities when planning programs for educational success (Greene, 2018). By identifying the weaknesses and strengths of the learners, the planners can budget effectively in acquiring materials that are of benefit in strengthening the weaknesses of the learners. When such materials are made a priority, improvement in academic success is guaranteed. The standardized tests are meant for elementary, middle school as well as high school levels of education. Resources such as formative tools are provided by the education management teams from the districts to ensure that the educators, learners, parents, and the public are equipped to play their parts in improving the educational opportunities for the learners.
In summary, the standardized assessments tests in Georgia are important in providing the information used in improving the quality of content and service the learners are given. The educators use the results to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the individual learners and institutions hence making the necessary adjustments that would help improve the quality of the curriculum the learners undertake. An assessment test such as the GKIDS Readiness Check is considered vital as it helps to understand the right content for the individual learners. It is usually given after six weeks of learning to help identify the right content for the learners. Other tests are also important in identifying some of the educational needs such as materials, capital, and human resources allocation to help improve the quality of education in general.
Bable, B. (2018). GKIDS Readiness Check. Retrieved from http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/Readiness.aspx
Barker, J. (2018). Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (GKIDS) Learning Trajectories. Retrieved from https://coe.uga.edu/research/grants/georgia-kindergarten-inventory
Greene. (2018). Testing/Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/default.aspx
Nesbit-McBride, M. (2018). The Georgia Alternate Assessment (GAA). Retrieved from http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/GAA.aspx
Polat, N., Zarecky-Hodge, A., & Schreiber, J. (2016). Academic growth trajectories of ELLs in NAEP data: The case of fourth- and eighth-grade ELLs and non-ELLs on mathematics and reading tests. The Journal of Educational Research, 109(5), 541-553. doi: 10.1080/00220671.2014.993461
WIDA. (2018). ACCESS for ELLs | WIDA. Retrieved from https://wida.wisc.edu/assess/access
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