For North Callaway R-l School District, learning targets are an important focal point in their curriculum. “We focus on learning targets because they drive the daily instruction. Learning targets pinpoint specific problems within the curriculum and help us to create more accurate assessments for our students,” said Dr. Sandy Haskins, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for North Callaway.
In July 2011, the district purchased BuildYourOwnAssessment (BYOA) in order to measure and analyze the effectiveness of student assessment data with their curriculum. According to Haskins, North Callaway decided to implement BYOA because the software worked as a complementary piece to the curriculum they had already built using BuildYourOwnCurriculum (BYOC). BYOA directly references the district’s learning targets, established in BYOC, to create more accurate and effective student assessments.
Dr. Sandy Haskins, Director of Curriculum & Instruction
“In the past, we used another tool to create and manage our student assessments. However, it did not allow us to cross-reference learning targets with our assessments. BYOA allows us to easily access assessments, provides instant feedback and directly references our learning targets and standards entered in BYOC,” said Haskins.
North Callaway had always been involved in searching for more beneficial assessment software, but had never found anything that was user friendly or could easily be distributed to staff. “I have been working with curriculum for 20 years, and in those years I had never seen any software that matches the usability of BYOA. BYOA is the only curriculum assessment software I’ve seen that ties directly to our learning targets,” said Haskins.
According to Dr. Haskins, BYOA provides teachers with instant scoring and feedback to identify problematic curriculum topics and create tighter assessments. “It allows me to look at the results and make comments to staff on whether assessment questions need improvement.”
Dr. Haskins explained that North Callaway is still in the beginning stages of their BYOA implementation, but recommends that all districts first focus on implementing BYOC to create a proper curriculum foundation before starting on BYOA. “I would recommend that districts get the course curriculum into BYOC first. Then very gradually implement BYOA otherwise, the process can become overwhelming.”
North Callaway started their BYOA implementation during the 2011-12 school year, one year after their purchase of BYOC. According to Dr. Haskins, the teaching staff is gradually creating one assessment at a time after the curriculum for that course has been written in BYOC. “From this point on, the mantra is to write a course, the lesson plans for that course [done in BYOC] and then write an assessment for that course until all the course curriculum and assessments are in our system,” explained Haskins. She expects the full implementation to take 4 to 5 years, but went on to say that the process is worth it.
“75% of our teachers have expressed their confidence in BYOA. They can see how the program effectively works with BYOC to create more accurate assessments. Yes, this process will take some time, but in the end, they can see this as a great tool especially for new teachers that are entering the district, “ said Haskins.
Even though the district is still in the beginning stages with its utilization of BYOA, many teachers have already successfully administered assessments and reviewed test data. And due to BuildYourOwnAssessment’s clear and simple setup, staff members have been successful in creating effective multiple choice and short answer exams.
When asked how BYOA has helped to improve assessment analysis in the district so far, Dr. Haskins said the software had been successful in pointing out whether assessment questions were too difficult or too easy. She could easily access assessment data, comment on assessment questions and communicate with teachers all through BYOA.
“BYOA is helping us to create more challenging and accurate assessments that will serve as good practice for exams such as the MAP and ACT. We want our students to be well-prepared for these types of exams,” said Haskins.
Dr. Haskins said the addition of BYOA to their BYOC subscription was a great choice, and recommends that all districts using BYOC consider BYOA to further improve their student assessments and curriculum. “This is a great tool. The duo of BYOC and BYOA makes curriculum and assessment alignment do-able.”
Created at the request of school districts nationwide, BYOA is an assessment development tool created to provide simple management and analysis of district assessments. With the use of BYOA, educators can create and administer assessments online; analyze assessment data; and easily align assessment questions with Core Curriculum standards, local standards, learning targets, and other key objectives.