Wayzata Public Schools

Research & Evaluation

The vision of the research and evaluation department is to provide a model of excellence in continuous improvement. Our services include:

  • coordinating the district's balanced assessment system that is aligned with the Minnesota Academic Standards and district goals
  • supporting a continuous improvement model that enables teachers and administrators to use data to monitor the success of individual students to ultimately result in increasing positive outcomes for each and every student
  • conducting district wide Program Evaluations using relevant research and data to enable teachers and administrators to make sound curriculum and program decisions

Contacts

Dr. Stacey Lackner
Director of Research and Evaluation
763-745-5065
Stacey.Lackner@wayzataschools.org

Jenniffer Whitworth
Assessement Coordinator
763-745-5018
Jenniffer.Whitworth@wayzataschools.org

Cheryl Warzeha
Testing Technician
763-745-5066
Cheryl.Warzeha@wayzataschools.org

Demae DeRocher
Secretary
763-745-6016
Demae.DeRocher@wayzataschools.org

Assessments Overview

Standardized Assessments

Standardized Assessments are tests that are given outside of the curriculum and instruction process. They are typically purchased from a test vendor and provide normative comparisons at the national or state level. The timing of the administration of assessments is more closely related to the school year calendar and program decision-making timelines, than to the pacing of the curriculum and instruction in the classroom. They are used to measure student progress toward meeting grade-level standards, predict performance on state accountability tests, triangulate data for program decisions, screen students for remediation or enrichment, and identify relative strengths and weaknesses in district curriculum and instruction practices to inform professional development and curriculum resource decisions.

We administer several standardized assessments to monitor student academic achievement, academic growth and preparedness for college and career goals. They fall into three categories.

  • State Accountability Tests: These tests are mandated by the state and are used to measure student attainment of Minnesota Grade Level Standards, school/district effectiveness and student readiness for MN State College and University courses.
  • District Standardized Tests: These tests are purchased by the district and administered to inform educational programming and instructional decision-making.
  • National College and Career Readiness Tests: These tests inform students, parents and staff on student progress toward national college and career readiness standards.

State Accountability Tests

  • Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA)
  • Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS)
  • ACCESS for ELs (ACCESS)

District Standardized Tests

  • Grades 2-5
    • FastBridge aReading and aMath
  • Grade 4
    • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
  • Grades 6-8
    • Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA-MAP)

National College and Career Readiness Tests

  • PSAT
  • PreACT 8/9
  • PreACT
  • ACT plus Writing
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Subject Tests

For more information about Standardized Assessments, contact Stacey Lackner, Director of Research and Evaluation, at Stacey.Lackner@wayzataschools.org.

District Common Assessments

District Common Assessments are assessments that are directly linked to the curriculum taught in the Wayzata Public Schools. They are based on academic standards and are typically developed by teacher teams within the school district. They are necessary to implement the district curriculum with fidelity and to report progress to students and parents on student mastery of academic standards (e.g., report cards).

For more information about District Common Assessments, contact your child's teacher.

Assessment Calendar - District, National and State Testing Details

November 2019
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Sat/Sun
Mon, Oct 28
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Fri, Nov 1
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Fri, Nov 8
Sat, Nov 9
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Thu, Nov 28
Fri, Nov 29
Sat, Nov 30
Sun, Dec 1

Calendar & Category Legend:

  • Elementary Digital Days
  • Secondary Digital Days

Standardized Assessments - Details

State Accountability Tests

ACCESS

The ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs are the assessments developed by the WIDA consortium and administered to English learners in order to measure progress toward meeting Minnesota’s standards for English language development, developed by the WIDA consortium. Most English learners will take the ACCESS for ELLs, but English learners who received special education services and meet the participation guidelines may take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. 

More information about ACCESS tests can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education Statewide Testing page.

Required by: State of Minnesota

Content Area/Subject: English Language Proficiency (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing)

Purpose: Meets ESSA federal accountability requirement for measuring English language acquisition for English Learners (ELs)

Participants: All students identified as ELs in Grades K-12

Mode of Administration: Online (desktops, laptops), requires keyboard and headset with microphone

Test Length: listening up to 40 minutes, speaking up to 30 minutes, reading up to 35 minutes, writing up to 65 minutes.

Accessing Your Child's ACCESS Results:

MCA

The MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) measures student progress toward Minnesota's academic standards and meets the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The Title I section of ESSA requires that all public school students be assessed in grades 3–8 and once in high school in reading and mathematics state accountability calculations. Testing of science is also required for ESSA but is not included in AYP or MMR calculations. Students take one test in each subject. Most students take the MCA, but some students who receive special education services may meet eligibility criteria may take the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS). More information about MCA tests can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education Statewide Testing page.

Required by: State of Minnesota

Content Area/Subject: Reading. Math, Science

Purpose: Meets federal ESSA accountability requirements. Measures how well academic standards are being aligned to curriculum and instruction in our schools, to ensure that all students in the state are provided an equitable education.

Participants: all students in Grades 3-8 and 10 (Reading), All students in Grades 3-8 and 11 (Math), All students Grades 5, 8 and HS students taking a Life Science Course (Science)

Mode of Administration: online (iPads, desktops, laptops)

Test Length: Untimed, average test duration: Reading 2.5-3.5 hours, Math 1.5-2.5 hours, Science 1.75-2.0 hours

Accessing Your Child's MCA Results:

  • Individual Student Reports (ISR): Each year, MDE sends paper Individual Student Reports (ISR) to the school district. Once received in the district, ISRs will be distributed to families by US mail, during August Back-to-School events, or during fall conferences.
  • Skyward Family Access: Parents can also view their child’s final MCA test scores in Skyward Family Access. Directions on how to view and interpret MCA scores through Skyward Family Access

MTAS

The Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) is an alternative state test for which students with significant cognitive disabilities may be eligible to take in place of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA). The MTAS measures student progress toward Minnesota's academic standards and meets the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

More information about MTAS tests can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education Statewide Testing page.

Required by: State of Minnesota

Content Area/Subject: Reading, Math, Science

Purpose: Meets ESSA federal accountability requirement for special education students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Participants: Students in special education who meet the eligibility criteria. There is a 1% cap on the number of students who can take the MTAS.

Mode of Administration: Individual Administration by Special Education Teacher

Test Length: Administration length varies by student

Accessing Your Child's MTAS Results:

  • Individual Student Reports (ISR): Each year, MDE sends paper Individual Student Reports (ISR) to the school district. Once received in the district, ISRs will be distributed to families by US mail, during August Back-to-School events, or during fall conferences.
  • Skyward Family Access: Parents can also view their child’s final MTAS test scores in Skyward Family Access.  Directions on how to view and interpret MTAS scores through Skyward Family Access. 

 

District Standardized Tests

Grades 2-5

FastBridge aReading and aMath

FastBridge is a suite of assessment tools designed to make assessment efficient and instructionally relevant. The aReading and aMath tests are Screening Assessments within the FastBridge system. aReading and aMath tests are correlated with the MCA and can be used to measure student growth across time. Students take one reading test and one math test on the computer. There is no time limit on the tests, but most students take from 15-30 minutes to complete each test. aReading and aMath tests are computer-adaptive, which means that as a student answers correctly, the questions become more difficult. If a student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. With a computer adaptive test, we can measure a student's performance level whether it is below grade level, at grade level, or well above grade level.

Required by: Wayzata Public Schools

Content Area/Subject: Reading and Math

Purpose: aReading and aMath tests are used to predict how students will perform on the Reading and Math MCA. aReading and aMath tests are used as one of the measures to screen students for remedial intervention and Gifted & Talented services. They are also used to measure student growth across school years. They are nationally normed and provide feedback to students, parents and teachers regarding the student's growth and progress toward academic goals and college readiness.

Participants: All students grades 2-5 (fall), All students grade 2 (spring)

Mode of Administration: online (iPads, desktops, laptops)

Test Length: untimed, average test duration is 15-30 minutes per subject

Accessing you child's aReading and aMath results: Following each FastBridge testing window, parents/guardians can access their child's aReading and aMath test results in the Skyward Family Access System. Directions for viewing and interpreting FastBridge aReading and aMath test results in Skyward Family Access.

Note about National Percentile Ranks: Summer of 2019, FastBridge recalculated the national percentile ranks with a stratified sample that better represents the national population as a whole than their previous norms did. This means that scores at the upper end, which used to be at the 99th or 98th percentile, now have a lower national percentile. For example, in the old norms an aReading scaled score of 540 in the fall of 5th grade was at the 99th national percentile. With the new norms, that same scaled score is now at the 88th national percentile. The student's skill level is the same, because the scaled score is the same. However, the national comparison group has shifted up, which means the national percentile is now lower.  The district norms did not change, a 5th grade student who scored 540 last year in the fall was in the district percentile range of 74-76. A 5th grade student who scored 540 this year in the fall also has a district percentile in the range of 74-76.

Additional information: 

Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

CogAT tests are group administered assessments that measure students’ learned reasoning abilities developed through in-school and out-of-school experiences. The CogAT tests measure three cognitive domains, Verbal, Non-verbal, and Quantitative reasoning. It is one of multiple information sources used in the district-wide identification process for Gifted & Talented services and middle school advanced coursework recommendations. The CogAT is a measure of a student’s potential to succeed in school-related tasks. It is not a measure of general intelligence or IQ.

CogAT Parent Letter

CogAT Full Battery

The CogAT Full Battery includes three domains: Verbal, Quantitative and Non-verbal reasoning. Results from the CogAT Full Battery test are used with other achievement measures (such as MCA, aReading & aMath) to inform decisions about placement in advanced coursework. The CogAT Full Battery test provides an overall composite score of general reasoning abilities and a score for each of the three domain areas.

Required by: Wayzata Public Schools

Purpose: The CogAT is one of multiple information sources used in the district-wide identification process for Gifted & Talented services and middle school advanced coursework recommendations.

Participants: All students grade 4, new students in grade 5

Mode of Administration: online (iPads, desktops, laptops)

Test Length: 3.0 hours

Accessing Your Child's CogAT Test Results: Following the CogAT testing window, Wayzata parents can access their child's CogAT test results in Skyward Family Access. Directions on How to View CogAT Results in Skyward Family Access.

Additional information: 

Grades 6-8

Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA-MAP)

MAP tests are aligned with the Minnesota state standards, determine a student's instructional level, and measure academic growth in the areas of Reading, Mathematics and Science. Students take one reading test, one math test, and one science test on the computer. There is no time limit on the tests, but most students take from 40-50 minutes to complete each test. The MAP is computer-adaptive, which means that as a student answers correctly, the questions become more difficult. If a student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. By presenting questions based on the individual student's answers during the test, the MAP test identifies his/her appropriate learning level. With a computer adaptive test, we can measure a student's instructional level whether they are performing below grade level, at grade level, or well above grade level.

Required by: Wayzata Public Schools

Content Area/Subject: Reading, Math, and Science

Purpose: MAP tests are aligned with Minnesota state standards and are used to predict how students will perform on the Reading, Math and Science MCA. They can also predict student performance on the ACT. They are computer adaptive, which means the test adjusts the difficulty of the items presented based on the student's correct and incorrect answers. This allows us to measure a student's instructional level whether they are performing below, at or above grade level, MAP tests are used as one of the measures to screen students for remedial intervention and Vision 21 services. They are also used to measure student growth across school years. They are nationally normed and provide feedback to students, parents and teachers regarding the student's growth and progress toward academic goals and college readiness.

Participants: All students grades 6-8 (Winter only)

Mode of Administration: online (iPads, desktops, laptops)

Test Length: untimed, average test duration is 65 minutes per subject (Reading, Math, and Science)

Accessing you child's MAP results: Following each MAP testing season, parents can access their child's MAP test results in Skyward Family Access. Directions on how to view and interpret MAP scores through Skyward Family Access. 

Additional information and parent resources are available in the NWEA's Parent Toolkit.

National College and Career Readiness Tests

ACT plus Writing

According to current Minnesota State Statutes, all high school students are encouraged to participate in a nationally normed college entrance exam. School districts must provide high school students in grades 11 or 12 the opportunity to take a nationally recognized college entrance exam before graduating. In Wayzata Public Schools, we offer the ACT plus Writing exam to all students in grade 11 in the spring.

Required by: State of Minnesota (districts choose which assessment to use)

Content Area/Subject: English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing

Purpose: Meets Minnesota State Graduation Assessment Requirement. According to current state statute, all Minnesota public school districts must offer all students in grades 11 and 12 the opportunity to take a College Entrance Exam at school during the school day.

Participants: All students in Grade 11. Also any new students in Grade 12, who have not already taken the ACT plus Writing.

Mode of Administration: Paper

Test Length: 5.0 Hours

Accessing your child's ACT plus Writing Results:

PreACT

Required by: Wayzata Public Schools

Content Area/Subject: English, Math, Reading, Science

Purpose: The PreACT test provides a guidance resource to help students measure their current academic development and make plans for the remaining years of high school and post-graduation. It also let’s students know how they would perform on the ACT test if they took it at that time.

Participants: All students in Grade 10.

Mode of Administration: Paper

Test Length: 3.5 hours

Accessing your child's PreACT Results:

PreACT 8/9

Required by: Wayzata Public Schools

Content Area/Subject: English, Math, Reading, Science

Purpose:  The PreACT 8/9 provides support to 9th graders with an early practice experience for the ACT test. It also provides an early indicator of college and career readiness that helps educators, students, and parents identify areas of academic strength and opportunity. 

Participants: All students in Grade 9.

Mode of Administration: Paper

Test Length: 2.5 hours

Accessing your child's PreACT Results:

Advanced Placement (AP) Subject Tests

Required by: Optional

Content Area/Subject: Varies by course

Purpose: Part of the Advanced Placement (AP) program. Allows students to build college skills and earn college credits while in high school.

Participants: Optional for all students in grades 9-12. Typically students, who are taking AP courses, take the corresponding AP test.

Mode of Administration: Varies by course

Test Length: Varies by course

Accessing your child's AP Results: Following each AP testing season, parents can access their child's AP test results in Skyward Family Access.  Directions on how to view and interpret AP scores through Skyward Family Access. 

Assessment Calendar - Two Page Overview

Parent/Guardian Refusal for Student Participation in Assessments

2016 District E-12 Assessment Review Summary

During the 2015-16 school year, a team of school/district administrators and district resource teachers worked throughout the year to gather information on district assessments.

Committee Members

  • Robin Henslin, Special Education Supervisor – Early Childhood
  • Sandi Arndt, Coordinator of Family Learning Center
  • Sam Fredrickson, Principal - Birchview Elementary School
  • Karen Keffeler, Principal - Meadow Ridge Elementary School
  • Jim Bollum, Associate Principal - West Middle School
  • Marian Boyd, Associate Principal – Wayzata High School
  • Nancy McCoy, Language Arts Resource Teacher
  • Courtney LaRoche, Mathematics Resource Teacher
  • Jill Johnson, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
  • Stacey Lackner, Director of Research and Evaluation

A total of 31 assessments were reviewed by the committee listed by category below.

State Accountability Assessments
  • Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA)
  • Minnesota Test of Alternative Standards (MTAS)
  • ACCESS for ELLs /Alternate ACCESS for ELLs
  • Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP)
College and Career Readiness Assessments
  • ACT plus Writing
  • ACT Practice Test
  • Explore/Plan
  • Accuplacer
College Board Exams
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Tests
Standardized Achievement Tests
  • Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) Text Level
  • Grade 2 Word List
  • Illinois Snapshots of Early Literacy (ISEL)
  • Observation Survey (OS)
  • Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
  • Optional Local Purpose Assessment (OLPA)
Standardized Ability Tests
  • Cognitive Abilities Test – Screening Form (CogAT Screener)
  • Cognitive Abilities Test – Full Battery (CogAT Full)
Early Childhood Development Measures
  • Work Sampling
  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social/Emotional-2 (ASQ-SE-2)
  • Get Ready to Read (GRTR)
  • Abrams Letter People Theme Assessments
  • Minneapolis Preschool Screening Instrument (MPSI)
District Common Assessments
  • Pre-K Formative Assessments
  • Elementary Language Arts Unit Benchmark Tests Grades 2-5
  • Writing Prompts
  • Elementary Mathematics Benchmark Tests Kindergarten
  • Elementary Mathematics Unit Tests Grades 1-5
  • Middle School Common Assessments
  • High School Common Assessments
Social/Emotional Well-being Measures
  • Minnesota Student Survey
  • Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (RADS)

As part of the review, the committee created working definitions of Standardized Achievement Tests and District Common Assessments.

Standardized Achievement Tests: Standardized achievement tests are assessments that are given outside of the curriculum and instruction process. They are typically purchased from a test vendor and provide normative comparisons at the national or state level. The timing of the administration of assessments is more closely related to the school year calendar and program decision-making timelines, than to the pacing of the curriculum and instruction in the classroom. They are used to measure student progress toward meeting grade level standards, predict performance on state accountability tests, triangulate data for program decisions, screen students for remediation or enrichment, and identify relative strengths and weaknesses in district curriculum and instruction practices to inform professional development and curriculum resource decisions. Time students spend taking Standardized Achievement Tests is counted toward the state time limit on local student testing.

District Common Assessments: District common assessments are assessments that are directly linked to the curriculum taught in the Wayzata Public Schools. They are based on academic standards and are typically developed by teacher teams within the school district. They are necessary to implement the district curriculum with fidelity, and to report progress to students and parents on student mastery of academic standards (e.g., report cards). Time students spend taking District Common Assessments is not counted as part of the state time limit on local student testing.

The team created a detailed description for each assessment answering questions such as who takes the test, who uses the results and for what purpose, the cost of the test, time required to take the test, disruption to instruction and school building schedule, etc. Initial information was collected by team members from assessment technical manuals, purchasing contracts, and discussions building staff (building leadership teams or individual Professional Learning Communities-PLCs).

After collecting preliminary data on all the assessments, the team identified additional questions to be answered. A staff survey was created to gather teacher feedback on the additional questions. All teaching staff, PreK-12, were invited to provide their feedback through the online survey. Results of the survey were reviewed and analyzed by the team. The team split into sub-committees by grade level group. Each subcommittee created recommendations for district standardized testing based on the parameters of the assessment review “charge", the initial information about each assessment gathered by the team members, and data collected from the teacher survey.

Summary of Spring 2016 Teacher Survey Feedback E-12

The data from the teacher survey indicated that the majority of E-12 teachers in each grade level group (58-74%) believe we give too many assessments and spend too much time on assessments.

When asked which characteristics of tests make them most helpful to teachers for targeting instruction and predicting student performance on age-appropriate standards. The four characteristics with the highest endorsement are listed below:

  • Shows student progress
  • Easily understood student results
  • Rapid turnaround of results
  • Informs PLC work

For detailed survey results by grade level group, please click the links below.

Overall Recommendations E-12

Each grade level group sub-committee created a list of recommendations for assessments at their grade level by taking into consideration information about the assessments (intended purpose, cost, time to administer, etc.), survey feedback from teachers, and the original charge of the assessment review. Below is a summary of the assessment review committee's recommendations for the Wayzata Public Schools E-12 Assessment System.

General Assessment Practices

  • Alignment - Align assessments at the Pre-Kindergarten level across programs and ensure that assessments have a strong link to teaching practices. Align reading assessments from Kindergarten through Grade 3.
  • Clarity – Define “district/school" assessment as it relates to the new state law on local testing time limits. Provide information for all staff on which assessments are part of the local testing limit restrictions and which are not.
  • Technology - Align district assessment tools (Performance Matters, Responseware) with other district systems (Skyward, Canvas).
  • Training – Provide ongoing training to all staff, especially classroom teachers, counselors and principals on why we use each assessment, how to access the results, and how to interpret the scores.

Assessment-specific Recommendations

  • Discontinue: OLPA, Explore, and Plan
  • Replace: Work Sampling, GRTR, and HELP: 3-5 with TS-GOLD
  • Continue With No Suggested Changes: HELP: 0-3, MN Student Survey, and RADS
  • Continue With Suggestions for Improvement:
    • CogAT – Needs significant structural changes.
    • MAP – Explore options with MAP testing at the elementary and middle school levels, with the goal of reducing testing time, especially in the spring. Investigate if there are other tests that may better meet our needs in these grade levels (e.g., FAST). Limit MAP testing at the high school level to only new or “at-risk" students.
    • MCA – Address logistical challenges for administering the MCA at the High School with multi-grade classes and block scheduling.
    • ACT /College and Career Readiness – Continue administering ACT plus Writing to all Grade 11 students in the spring. Explore options for College and Career Readiness testing for Grade 9 and 10 students (e.g., PreACT, Aspire, etc.).
    • AP – Address the high amount of pressure some students feel with AP tests (e.g., taking multiple AP classes at once, pressure to get perfect score on test, etc.). For other students, address access opportunities and support to encourage their participation in AP courses and tests.
    • District Common Assessments – Continue to develop common summative assessments aligned to standards at the middle school and high school levels through like-course PLCs. Continue to incorporate development of district common benchmark assessments at the elementary level through the curriculum review process. Focus on how teachers can use the assessments to drive instruction and as part of program decisions.

Research Requests