Data is the catalyst for informing instructional decisions in Lower Merion School District. The District analyzes data through four assessment domains to help inform short-term and long-term decisions about the education of our students. These include diagnostic, benchmark, formative and summative assessment data.
Diagnostic Assessment Data
Diagnostic assessment data ascertains, prior to instruction, each student's strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills. Using this data allows the instructor to adjust instructional practices to meet each student's unique needs. LMSD utilizes Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) provided by The Pennsylvania Department of Education in the following content areas for grades six through twelve: Reading/Literature, Writing/English Composition, Mathematics, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Science, Biology and Chemistry
Benchmark Assessment Data
Benchmark assessment data sets are designed to provide feedback to both the teacher and the student about how the student is progressing towards demonstrating proficiency on grade level standards. Well-designed benchmark assessments and standards-based assessments measure the degree to which a student has mastered a given concept, skill or application. Reports are developed by referencing standards rather than other students' performance. This kind of data is used to measure performance regularly, not only at a single moment in time. Administrators and teachers in the Lower Merion School District are working together closely to develop common benchmark assessments aligned to common learning standards and outcomes.
Formative Assessment Data
Formative assessment data is used by teachers and students during instruction to provide feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning, and to improve the student's achievement of intended instructional outcomes. Meaningful formative assessment involves collecting the evidence about how a student is learning so that necessary instructional adjustments can be made to close achievement gaps at the classroom level. Formative assessment should be integrated into everyday instruction and learning with both teachers and students receiving frequent feedback. The use of ongoing formative classroom assessment data is vital to the teaching and learning process. Formative assessment examples are the quick comprehension checks teachers administer to students regularly to check for student understanding of learning outcomes.
Summative Assessment Data
Summative assessment data is used to measure the overall learning and teaching progress made at the end of a defined period of instruction. This type of assessment is usually considered the high-stakes assessments, and results are usually tied to accomplishments at key points in a student's academic career. Some examples of summative assessment data are PSSA, Keystone Exams, end of unit exams, and final course exams.