Where did DCAS come from?
Today, as the last DSTP scores are released, and as districts and the state gear-up for the first year of using the new Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS), it is interesting to look back on how we moved from DSTP to DCAS over the last five years.
With minor tweaks along the way, DSTP was the law of the land for over a decade in Delaware. DSTP was a summative assessment, designed to tell us if students were meeting the standards when they finished the school year. While that worked fairly well for determining if a student or school was meeting expectations, it did very little to help teachers, parents, and administrators understand how students were learning over the course of the year, and where they needed more help. Schools and districts have always used in-house tests to help them along the way, but it is often hard to tell if those tests match up well to the expectations of the state assessment system.
Educators, parents, and state leaders saw the fault in this, and in 2005 Delaware began the Delaware Statewide Academic Growth Assessment Pilot to gain a greater understanding of the components we wanted to see in the next state assessment system. That fall, schools and districts around the state began piloting the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment. MAP is an online adaptive test that teachers give students three times a year, and which provides formative data to teachers throughout the school year that they can use to adjust their instruction. In its first year, the pilot served over 30 thousand students in four school districts and four charter schools. The funding for the pilot was provided by the schools and districts, the Delaware Business Roundtable, the Rodel Foundation, the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, the Delaware Foundation for Science and Math Education, and the Delaware Department of Education.
After two years, the pilot team commissioned a number of evaluation studies to see how well MAP scores predicted success on the DSTP, and to gather insight from parents and educators using MAP. These evaluations showed that parents, teachers, and administrators were very excited about using MAP and found it to be a valuable tool for both predicting student growth and creating individualized instruction.
MAP has continued to be used in schools and districts across the state, reaching over 40% of schools and nearly half of Delaware public school students. MAP is currently funded primarily by Districts that have seen the results of having this high quality tool in their classrooms.