Tips and Tricks to Make Alternate State Assessment Easy

I teach a k-5 self-contained special ed class.  Some of my students take the regular state assessment and some qualify for the alternate portfolio assessment.  The Alt is so much better for most of my students since the students are tested over a long period of time and they are assessed on personal growth not mastery of the skill on their grade level.  It is a LOT of work on the teacher.  Here’s a breakdown of how the TCAP-Alt works in Tennessee.

Students are required to be tested in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies.  For each subject, the teacher chooses 3 standards which are based on the student’s IEP.  For each standard, the teacher has to plan lessons and assessments to take data on for 15 days.  (The days do not have to be consecutive.)  The teacher also has to keep track of which peers the student worked with for each data point and what choice you gave the student.  By the end, that’s a lot of data to keep track of especially when you have several students taking the Alt.
I have 4 folders, one for each subject area.  I keep all data sheets and materials needed to assess that subject area in that folder.  On the outside of each folder, I have a chart that has the students’ names down the left side and the numbers 1-15 across the top.  As I complete an assessment for a student, I check off their name under the correct standard.  I can tell at a glance how many data points I have completed for each student.  (See checklist here.)  I also keep one folder for each student that is being assessed.  I put completed graphs and evidence sheets in the student’s individual folder. I also put all of the other papers that will be part of the Alt in individual folders such as the table of contents and the signature pages.  Here is an example of where I record each student’s scores. (See data sheet here.)  I put the standard at the top and make enough copies so that I have more than 15 data collection days (students are absent and will need to make up days at the end so they still have 15 data days.)
How do you make this manageable?  I try to figure out how to make flashcards for each standard.  The students either identify or sort the flashcards so I can assess daily quickly and easily.  When I make my flashcards, I make them for what I want them to be able to do at the very end of the unit of study.  At the beginning, they may only know 1 or 2 correct answers, but by the end, they are getting more and more correct.  Remember, the goal of the Alt is to show growth, not mastery of the skill. If they master the skill, that’s great, but so often our lower functioning students are not able to master a skill after a unit of study, but they have made progress.   Here is a set of my simple machine flashcards that I use with the students.  I have them sort them into the different types of simple machine it is. Then, I quickly count how many are correct out of how many total and I have a percentage to recored on my data sheet.  I add in any other details that I need such as peers and choice offered and my assessment lasted only 2-3 minutes! 

Some standards don’t allow for flashcards such as writing.  For those standards, I create a rubric.  Here is a sample of a writing rubric that I made for one of my students last year.  The good thing about rubrics is you can customize it to fit each student’s individual needs.  They are quick and easy and allow you to keep several days worth of data on each rubric.

I hope you found some useful tips.  I would love to hear any of your useful tips and tricks.


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