As teachers aim to better understand their students’ needs, new standardized tests are helping to do just that. Kaiser students are already familiar with a few, including Smarter Balanced and STAR Reading. However, new to this year is the STAR mathematics test, which intends to measure the arithmetic, algebraic and geometric-solving abilities of students. Ashley Wolstein, Kaiser’s new MYP coordinator, helps to manage the school’s STAR program. Wolstein sees the STAR test as a “great universal screener” of students’ math and reading abilities. Its main purpose is to provide a baseline for teachers in the beginning of the school year, so that a second test date in the fourth quarter can reveal growth or decline in students’ progress. STAR differs from Smarter Balanced, a state-mandated test more geared towards use by the Department of Education to assess statewide progress.
STAR tests are adaptive, meaning their level of difficulty changes as students advance through the questions. In doing so, teachers can gain a better picture of what type of problems their students work best with. STAR tests even give teachers “recommendations for new strategies of instruction” and “individualized skill sets” for students. Most importantly, STAR preaches mastery learning, a type of instruction Wolstein describes as “mastering certain skills before [students] can master other skills.”
Currently, a vast majority of the schools on Oahu take the STAR reading test, with many introducing the STAR mathematics test this year. Kaiser students should soon be complete with the STAR math test and can expect to take the reading portion in October. Wolstein says that, in the future, these test dates will become much closer in proximity to one another. For now, the school is focusing on taking the necessary steps to “implement this properly.”
Jaron Schreiber / Online Editor