With regards to assessments, have you heard of common assessments or benchmarks? How does subject matter or grade level determine which assessment the group of teachers will use? These assessments are typically used in specific grade levels or subjects.As part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the concept of curricular benchmarks was established and used by some states and individual school districts. ESEA was given much more authority with the passage of the (NCLB) No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001. As part of NCLB, all 50 states and the District of Columbia were required to establish a statewide assessment in order to determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) among the students served. Standards were set by all 50 states; some used national standards while others developed their own set.Benchmarks are in essence progress markers that determine the sequence of completion each student follows in association with the standards for a specific academic discipline. Standards, the associated benchmarks and the assessments are all chronological by design. As a child progresses through the grades, assessments become more challenging as more advanced concepts are introduced with each standard. Teachers must align their individual curriculum with state and/or national standards since their students progress will be measured against a statewide assessment. Not adhering to the required standards or diverging from the established content results in students doing poorly or failing the statewide assessment.In essence, the test drives the curriculum, and all instructional materials, including grade level and subject matter assessments, are just steps toward scoring proficient or advanced on the summative statewide exam.
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