READY FOR I-READY: Smart testing will offer ‘individualized’ assessments

Move over, traditional testing.


A newer, shinier assessment method will officially debut in St. Johns County elementary and middle schools next year, trading fixed-form testing for something far more individualized.

The school district has already rolled out i-Ready, a computer-adaptive assessment program, at six elementary schools and one K-8 academy. The program will eventually replace schools’ previous state assessment predictor and serve as a progress monitoring tool.

Christine Stephan, the director of instructional services for elementary education, said i-Ready will better prepare students and teachers for the rigors of the Florida Standards Assessment by providing detailed, personalized feedback throughout the year.

i-Ready offers three diagnostics in reading and math for kindergarten through eighth-grade students, with each test calculating student performance and evaluating areas of need.

“Some of the things we like about the diagnostic is that it adapts to students’ current level,” Stephan said. “It’s very individualized.”

Adaptive assessments such as i-Ready select test items based on students’ response patterns and adjust to levels at which students need instruction.

Students answering questions correctly on an i-Ready diagnostic receive more challenging questions, while students answering incorrectly receive less challenging questions. The process concludes by pinpointing areas students have mastered as well as need improvement.

“It identifies each student and what their strengths and weaknesses are in those components,” said Scott Sherman, the associate superintendent of accountability and intervention services.

Students are then grouped by instructional needs, allowing teachers to differentiate instruction.

Stephan said teachers can also use the program’s growth monitoring to track student progression and create their own tests. Teachers can share diagnostic data with parents and discuss improvement plans.

“It just gives so much more information and is very in-depth,” Stephan said.

The Florida Department of Education recently approved i-Ready as an alternate assessment for good cause promotion of third-grade students scoring a Level 1 on the English Language Arts section of the FSA, which eliminates the need for additional assessments.

Previously, third-grade students failing to meet FSA reading requirements had to take the SAT 10 Reading Comprehension Subtest or complete a state-issued reading portfolio to earn fourth-grade promotion.

“But now we will be able to use the third diagnostic test, given to all K-8 students, as a third-grade concordance score,” Stephan said .

i-Ready will not reduce the number of tests students take per year, but the computer-adaptive testing will at least provide smart customization otherwise unknown in traditional fixed-form testing.

“So we can ask,” Sherman said, “‘How are the students improving, based on these assessments?’”