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Assessment is an essential tool for gauging the amount of output of a certain ‘work in progress’, in relation to the inputs. More often, assessment is done in academic institutions and in places of work. Assessment is an equivalent of a test if we take an example of an academic institution.
Thus, it is essential for us to comprehend what the term test means before setting on other matters relating to assessment. According to Thissen & Wainer (2001), a test refers to an assessment with the intention of measuring the knowledge, aptitude, skill, and at times the physical fitness of a test taker. There are significant variations in tests such as requirements, style and rigor. The person taking the test may rely on memory when it comes to responding to the test task or questions set (Samuels& Wu, 2003).
Administration of tests could be done orally, in an area which is confined, on paper and even on the computer. Instructors in various institutions develop tests to measure the level of proficiency of learners so as success may lead to merit which is signified by test scores and grades. This can also be done by clinicians, governing bodies, and test providers and the educational testing service are an example among many others.
Uses of tests
Tests play an essential role in education as many countries require their students to undertake standardized tests in various subjects so as to guarantee graduation from one level or grade to the other. The main aim is an assessment of students’ proficiency in the subjects undertaken.
However, standardized tests are not a must to the US students and standardized tests are only required when applying for a position in the university program. ACT and SAT standardized skills are given in the US to measure the reasoning skills of the students, (Cangelosi, 1990). The quality of some educational institutions in certain countries across the world is managed by the use of standardized tests.
Secondly, in order to practice a profession, use a certain job title or claim to have competence of a certain field, the governing body uses standardized tests. This in return guarantees certification and licensing of various personnel who have pursued such courses in their educational institutions. For instance, in the case of lawyers, a bar exam is expected to be passed, and it is administered by the governmental bar licensing agency. Failure to pass this examination then certification is not guaranteed (Airasian, 1994).
Finally, Tests are also crucial when it comes to events such as competitions. Here, they are used as a tool in the selection of the participants who are equipped with the potential to create success in a competition like a soccer game. In the U.S, those skaters who have a desire of participating in skating competitions are required to excel an official U.S. Figure Skating test to ensure qualification (Thissen & Wainer, 2001).
Types of tests
Written tests comprise a majority of the tests that are developed by test developers, and one may choose whichever format or style to incorporate. Multiple choices are one example of the written tests.
Here, a candidate is presented with a set of answers and the expectation is that the right choice of those answers should be made. These kinds of questions require less time hence are time saving in a scenario which is characterized by limited time. In this category, we still have the True or False tests, matching tests, essay and fill-in- the blank tests.
Secondly, we have the physical fitness tests. These are designed in such a way that there is a measurement of physical strength, endurance and agility. Educational institutions have adopted them as part of physical education program whereas, in medicine, it is deemed a section of diagnostic testing.
Aerobic exercises as well as strength training emerged useful in the twentieth century as demonstrated by evidence in the maintenance of overall health, hence standardized fitness testing became incorporated into many agencies (Monahan,1998). In the U.S, fitness in the school going children was encouraged through the formation of the President’s Council on Youth Fitness in the year 1956. Examples of tests in this case are pushups, timed running, and abdominal crunches, which are performed by an individual.
Finally, there are the performance tests. An example is the test conducted during driving in order to acquire a driving license popularly known as behind the wheel test (Airasian, 1994). Here, not only does a student respond to queries concerning the automobile but also drives an automobile as he is evaluated. Professional entities and workplaces mostly employ these kinds of tests for licensure and professional certification.
A perfect example could be in the case of a cosmetologist when he performs a hair cut on a living human being. However, there are other performance tests which are merely simulations, for example, certification of an individual to be an ophthalmic technician, an examination which is in multiple choice and computerized skill simulation. Seven tasks, which are regularly performed on that job, must be completed by the examinee that is computer simulated like retinoscopy.
This type of assessment is categorized in between high stakes test and the progress monitoring tools. STAR, initially was an acronym which stood for: Standardized Test for the Assessment of Reading, but this is no longer the case as there have been other creation of skills in domains apart from reading (Airasian, 1994).
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Thus, put together STAR math, reading and STAR early literacy refers to assessments which are standardized and computer adaptive as a result of renaissance learning. This can be used any time because of item bank technology, which the STAR assessment is a tier two assessment skill granting practice in reading, math practice, as well as early literacy (Cangelosi, 1990).
Also, STAR as a tool, developed by Scruggs and Associates LLC, STAR in full; Strategic and Technical Assessment of Resources is an assessment tool which is proprietary interactive economically with an intention of cost effectively assessing the region’ s capacity for the development of economic and industrial cluster.
STAR assessments are purposeful in providing information about growth and achievement of students to teachers in grades one to twelve. The assessment is taken by students, and the scores are automatically provided by STAR software (Thissen & Wainer, 2001).
This enables teachers to view and print reports on grade level, and or individual classrooms for easy monitoring of progress. In this case, teachers are able to tailor instructions to specific individuals, as well as high stakes testing requirements. In the assessment, students’ skills and abilities are estimated and compared to national norms.
The intention is aiding the development of the curriculum and instruction through feedback provided in regard to the progress of student, grade level and classroom hence percentile ranks and grade equivalents are reported (Phelps, 2005).
Every assessment is correlated to others while it is also standardized, hence, the results lead to the prediction of achievements of other tests that are standardized. STAR reading’s purpose is the assessment of reading skills of students by providing an approximate measure of the reading level of each student and the assessment is finalized in not more than ten minutes (Monahan,1998).
STAR uses an approach known as three prong to combine quantitative data analysis, benchmarking practice and community stakeholders’ input (Phelps, 2001). As data, performance and perception is combined systematically, there is the provision of comprehensive assessment of an industrial sector or the community.
This enables a company or community to conduct an objective, and quick examination of how various economic issues interact and help in identifying main opportunities and gaps. Examples of institutions and organizations, which should use STAR, include industry groups, community redevelopment authorities, Economic development organizations, local governments and many others (Samuels & Wu, 2003).
Uses of STAR
STAR is used to provide a basis on which strategic planning is done. This is done through the provision of multi dimensional and comprehensive of the economy as well as the industry cluster in a period of time which is condensed. This creates time to focus on highly opportunities development as compared to data collection.
It can be used as a midpoint assessment tool as a target of ongoing efforts. In this regard, leverage points are identified hence focus is on industry cluster or economic strategies, and this is in various areas having immediate opportunities which can guarantee high return or feedback to the community after investment.
STAR as a tool for resource allocation. This is done through analysis of certain economic gaps between the levels of achievement by now and your target level in the future. There should also be comprehension of the required level of effort to seize opportunities and to feel any existing gaps (Samuels& Wu, 2003).
It is also used as a tool of dialogue in the community for developing the economy. Here, total understanding of stakeholders’ perception of existing economic conditions and those to come is vital, hence target should be on better communication as well as outreach efforts (Phelps, 2005).
However, the STAR reading, math and early literacy programs have come under criticism for lack of consistency, hence; they have been accused of providing inconsistent results for a similar student. This makes students to under look their reading and mathematics skills and think that they are at a lower rate than their actual abilities.
In a letter issued in the summer of 2005, The Illinois State Board of Education stated that no longer did it accept the scores of STAR reading in measuring performance progress. On the other hand, it may still be used in instructional decision making. This made the STAR Company re-categorize STAR Reading as a reading comprehension assessment (Cangelosi, 1990).
Assessment is thus a fundamental process in institutions and organizations, for it grants measurements of personnel in terms of skill. This may provide an avenue for promotion from one level or rank to the other. In the case of STAR assessments, when it comes to educational institutions, they give teachers a chance to accurately evaluate the abilities of the learners in a lesser time scale.
The information provided may then be used by the teachers and instructors to provide learners with effective materials for instruction as well as focus on assisting students who are seen to be weak. This is only to mean that any assessment of each type is critical in whatever field that is applied.
Airasian, P. (1994). Classroom assessment, Second Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Cangelosi, J. (1990). Designing tests for evaluating student achievement. New York: Addison-Wesley.
Monahan, T. (1998). The rise of standardized educational testing in the U.S.-a bibliographic overview. New York, USA: Taylor & Francis Group.
Phelps, R. (2005). Defending standardized testing. London: Psychology Press.
Samuels, S.J., & Wu, Y. (2003). The effects of immediate feedback on reading achievement. manuscript. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Thissen, D., & Wainer, H. (2001). Test scoring. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Press.