Empirical Evidence Shows Computer-Adaptive K-3 Universal Screener Improves Student Performance on High Stakes State Test

Published on July 22, 2011

in News

New York – July 22, 2011 – Mississippi third graders who completed three administrations of the Children’s Progress Academic Assessment (CPAA) received significantly higher scores on the third grade state achievement test, compared to students who did not use the CPAA.

The CPAA is a computer-based adaptive assessment used for universal screening and progress monitoring by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), as well as districts, schools and learning centers nationwide. The assessment covers early literacy and mathematics concepts in pre-kindergarten through third grade. It takes about 30 minutes per class and is administered three to six times a year. A patented scoring system uses error analysis to generate instant reports that help educators pinpoint individual needs and differentiate instruction.

In an analysis of third grade data from 2010, the correlations between the CPAA and the Mississippi third grade state achievement test – the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition (MCT2) – were high: +0.74 for English language arts and +0.71 for mathematics. A total of 35,556 Mississippi third graders were observed in this study. 18,921 students completed a fall, winter, and spring CPAA administration. The remaining 16,743 students were not exposed to the CPAA. All students were subsequently administered the third grade state achievement test, the MCT2.

Students who used the CPAA performed better on end-of-year state tests (MCT2) by a statistically significant margin. On the Language Arts section of the third grade state test (MCT2), 12.1% more CPAA users met standards – scoring “proficient” or “advanced” – than students who did not use the CPAA. On the Mathematics section, 13.2% more CPAA users met standards compared to students who did not use the CPAA. The differences between CPAA users and non-users were significant, with a level of error of 1 in 10,000 (p < 0.0001).

“Our state has seen incredible enthusiasm and extremely high satisfaction among the school districts using the CPAA over the past three years.  People continue to talk about the powerful reporting tool and the ease of use for teachers in identifying student weaknesses and providing targeted instruction and engaging activities,” said James H. Mason, Director of the Office of Student Assessment at the Mississippi Department of Education.

“It’s wonderful to see these significant, positive results. We’re honored to have the chance to work with Mississippi’s dedicated educators and we look forward to continuing our partnership to drive achievement across the state,” said Kevin Greaney, CEO of Children’s Progress.

Children’s Progress’ Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Eugene Galanter, Emeritus Professor and Quondam Director of the Columbia University Psychophysics Laboratory described how the CPAA is different from a typical test:

“Give a 100-item math test to Mary and John. They both score 50%, implying that their math skills are similar. Now look at the test. The even numbered questions are addition problems, the odd numbered ones are subtraction problems. Mary got all the evens correct and John all the odds. Knowing this, can we still assume their skills are similar? Certainly not. For this reason, the CPAA digs deeper than a typical test to isolate these differences and use them to identify each child’s unique learning needs.”

Grounded in decades of federally-supported research based on the work of psychologist Lev Vygotsky, the CPAA adapts to student responses to provide targeted help (scaffolding) when they struggle. Beyond simply measuring student achievement, this formative tool offers detailed information to help educators intervene in specific areas of difficulty. When the right instruction is provided at the right time, student outcomes improve, as demonstrated by the higher end-of-year state test scores of CPAA users.

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