New state testing gives instant results

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LINCOLN, Neb. – The new Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) introduces a new approach to the role of assessment and aims to put students at the center of teaching and learning.

"This is a moment in time to make a real difference in the state assessment system," said Matthew Blomstedt, Commissioner of Education.

NSCAS features a more efficient, connected system of targeted assessments coupled with an increased commitment from NDE to professional learning opportunities for teachers. The assessments are used throughout the school year, providing information on each student's in-the-moment understanding, academic growth, and grade level proficiency.

"We used to have to wait a long time, now we developed a system that gives us immediate results," said Blomstedt.

The system helps teachers accelerate learning by ensuring they receive timely and in-depth assessment results they can use to meet the unique learning needs of each of their students.

"We've been intent on implementing an assessment system that helps students prepare for success in post secondary education, career, and civic life," said Blomstedt. "We're building a model system to understand the individual successes and challenges of each student, which allows us to provide all Nebraska children with educational experiences tailored to their needs."

NSCAS aligns with the goals of Nebraska's Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow (AQuESTT) that supports and rewards improvement for every student, school, and educator and classifies all schools into four performance levels.

"Assessments that produce results that are helping students understand where they are at and helping students understand where they are at," said Blomstedt.

NSCAS is comprised of multiple measures of learning - formative assessments that enable educators to monitor student understanding and adjust instruction in the moment; interim assessments that track academic growth and target learning needs over time; and summative assessments that measure achievement relative to Nebraska's content area standards in grades three through eight for English language arts (ELA) and math and grades fifth through eight for science. The system also includes professional learning opportunities that help teachers use assessment data to strengthen their instruction and effectiveness.

The new annual NSCAS Summative assessment, custom built by NDE and Nebraska teachers with NWEA designed to measure grade-level achievement relative to Nebraska's Content Area Standards for ELA and math in grades three through eight and science in grades five and eight.

"When students really know and are able to set their own goals, that really begins to inspire learning and really gets students engaged in their own learning," said Blomstedt.