Are students within a whole school or district understanding the material? Where is there room for growth and how can instruction be improved? These are the types of questions that teachers and school leaders ask and hope to answer when giving benchmark exams.
What Are they?
A benchmark exam is given across many classes, an entire grade level, a whole school, or across a district. The purpose of a benchmark exam is to understand if students have mastered specific standards and are ready to move on. Typically, benchmark exams are given to help students prepare for end of year state testing, like PARCC, AIR, SBAC, FSA, or PSSA.
It’s important to note that the terms “benchmark exam” and “interim assessment” are used interchangeably. They both are used to measure academic progress of large groups of students. Ideally, the results of a benchmark exam help teachers understand what lessons they need to reteach and which students need extra support. Beyond this, benchmark exams act as a “preview” to how a class, school, or district will perform on state tests or summative exams.
Components of a Benchmark Exam:
- Help drive future instruction
- Term used interchangeably with “interim assessment”
- Given to many classes, a whole school, or across an entire district
- Act as a “predictor” to state test scores
Is There a Difference Between Interim Assessment and Benchmark Exam? What About Formative Assessment?
There can be lots of confusion about the different types of assessments. It’s important to recognize these differences and understand how each type of assessment fits into the overall learning process of each student.
There is little to no difference between an interim assessment and a benchmark exam. They are both formal tests often given using technology, like Edulastic, to thoroughly and efficiently monitor student progress.
Benchmark exams are also formative in that they help teachers drive their future instruction. While traditional formative assessments are given in one class, benchmark exams are usually given across many different classes or across an entire school. The best benchmark exams give data quickly, so teachers can act on it. This is why digital assessment is great for benchmark exams!
Online Benchmark Exams With Edulastic
Schools and districts across the country have turned to Edulastic Enterprise to administer their common benchmark exams. When benchmark exams are given online, the results are instant and the data can immediately be used to help teachers modify their future lessons. School leaders can set up the test quickly and easily; they even can tie every question to a state standard.
For example, at Burton School District in California, district leaders and teachers are able to push out districtwide benchmark exams without a headache. David Shimer, Director of Education Services at Burton Schools, explains, “I think the ‘aha’ moment was when, within a period of one week, we were able to get every student across the district logged in, have teachers get an assessment from their students, and as a district we were able to get the charts and graphs back in ways that allowed us to adjust instruction and training.”
Examples of Benchmark Exams
Here are some examples of benchmark exams that teachers and school leaders have shared publicly in the Edulastic library. If they apply to what you’re teaching, feel free to use them! If not, you can search the public library to find other premade assessments, or you can create your own.