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Educators are continually looking for ways to improve student learning: Are we teaching what we think we are teaching? Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning? Answers to these questions are complex, but they can be approached from two perspectives: standards and measurement. Standards define the knowledge and skills that children should acquire by specific ages or grade levels. Measurement—including appropriate, valid, reliable testing—is an important component in determining whether students are meeting those standards.

Of course, part of the complexity of the issue stems from the fact that curricular priorities vary widely between states, school districts, schools, and even individual teachers. As part of the ongoing education reform movement in the United States, federal agencies, national teacher associations, state agencies, school districts, and education experts from academia have all defined standards that they believe students should meet. One of the most widely adopted sets of standards is Common Core.

Common Core: A Summary

Launched in 2009, Common Core is an initiative by governors and state commissioners of education through their membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. As described on its Web site, Common Core is an effort to take the best from the various state standards that have been developed over the past two decades and create language arts and math standards that work for students all across the country. Supporters of Common Core emphasize that the standards are research and evidence based, that they are aligned with college and career expectations, and that they are centered on “rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills” (www.commoncorestandards.org). The Common Core Web site includes a brief video introduction; you can also read the standards themselves on the site.

Of course, not everyone agrees that the Common Core standards represent appropriate goals for all students. In a 2012 article in the Washington Post, veteran educator and curriculum designer Marion Brady outlines some major problems with Common Core. Brady asserts that the standards ignore the main reason for poor student performance, namely, poverty; that the standards falsely assume that what students need to know is covered by traditional language arts and math curriculum; and that the standards discourage innovation and fail to evaluate complex thought.

Regardless of which side of the fence educators may find themselves on, the reality is that many states have embraced Common Core and schools are being asked to implement the standards—and measure student progress toward them.

Other National Learning Standards

In addition to Common Core and state standards, many schools have adopted standards in specific content areas, including those developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Additional requirements based on participation in programs like Reading First (part of the No Child Left Behind initiative) complicate curriculum decisions even further. Of course, there is a great deal of overlap among the standards.

To make sense of all the requirements and ultimately improve learning, schools need tools to help them measure student progress toward these goals. This is where comprehensive achievement testing comes in: Educators need valid, reliable achievement tests that measure students against the most up-to-date standards that their states and school districts require.

The Academic Achievement Battery: A comprehensive solution from PAR

The Academic Achievement Battery™ (AAB™) is a new achievement test from PAR that was developed specifically with the most up-to-date Common Core, NCTM, NCTE, and Reading First standards in mind. The comprehensive form, which takes about 90 minutes to administer, includes 15 subtests that measure 7 key areas of achievement: Basic Reading, Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension, Expressive Communication, Written Expression, Mathematical Calculation, and Mathematical Reasoning. The screening form, which takes less than 30 minutes to administer, uses four subtests to provide a snapshot of a student’s performance in reading, spelling, writing, and math.

What distinguishes the AAB from other achievement tests?

The AAB is…

  • Simple and straightforward. No product-specific certification or intensive training is required to administer the AAB. Simply open your AAB kit, review the materials, and you will be ready to begin.
  • Cost-effective. With special introductory pricing through the end of 2014, you can order the Comprehensive Kit for just $475 or the Screening Kit for just $180—up to $400 less than older, less competitive achievement products.
  • Available in print and online. Online administration is available through PARiConnect™, our convenient, easy-to-use online assessment platform. With PARiConnect, no special equipment is needed, and there are no additional up-front costs or contracts—just pay for what you need, when you need it.
  • Aligned with the standards your school district is using now. The AAB Professional Manual describes the alignment of AAB test items with specific Common Core standards. AAB content was approved by an expert panel with a wide range of knowledge of state and national standards, including specialists who served on the Common Core K-12 Standards Development Team.

An overview of the AAB and a walk-through of its administration will be available on PAR’s new Training Portal, which will be launching in November. Check the PAR Web site (www.parinc.com) next month for all the details about this exciting new tool.

In summary, the AAB is a comprehensive, up-to-date solution that will redefine the way achievement is measured. To learn more about the AAB and to take advantage of special preorder pricing and volume discounts, please visit www.parinc.com or call one of our Customer Service Specialists at 1.800.338.8378.

Thank You!

Copyright PAR, Inc. 2012