Research Assessment

Assessment Information for Decision Making
The Board of Education of the Omaha Public Schools believes that the district's assessment program must provide information to support effective decision making related to individual student achievement and learning, classroom organization and planning, school management and improvement planning, district management and planning, and policy making at the district, state, and federal levels.

Purposes of Assessment
To promote effective decision making, the district's assessment program will serve three major purposes: (1) to measure student achievement of basic skills and advanced curriculum standards, (2) to provide information to staff to improve instructional practices and to meet student needs, and (3) to evaluate and to monitor the effectiveness of district curriculum and instructional programs.

Quality Assessments
In order to meet the above purposes, the assessment program of the Omaha Public Schools must use only high quality assessments that are designed to be both valid and reliable. All assessments will have clear purposes and will incorporate a variety of assessment methods to evaluate accurately students' knowledge and skills. These methods will include selected responses and performance-based measures such as observations, performances, products, portfolios, and personal communication. All assessments must be controlled for bias or distortion that may interfere with the accuracy of results.

Types of Assessments and their Uses
In accordance with federal and state mandates and regulations, the assessment program of the Omaha Public Schools will include standardized norm-referenced tests and standardized criterion-referenced tests. Standardized norm-referenced tests will be used to ascertain student mastery of basic skills and to compare student achievement in the Omaha Public Schools with student achievement in this state and in the nation. Standardized criterion-referenced tests will be used to determine student mastery of higher level skills and applications described in the district's curriculum standards and in the Nebraska State Standards.

Teaching-Testing Time Balance
The assessment program of the Omaha Public Schools is a vital component of the teaching-learning process that includes teaching, assessing, and re-teaching. In this process, assessments determine student knowledge and skills, and instruction is adjusted to assure student mastery of curriculum standards. Because a balance must exist between teaching and assessing, student time to complete required district assessments will not exceed two percent of class time during the course of a school year.

Ethical Assessment Practices
Assessment practices must be conducted ethically. In questionable situations, an investigation by the Research Division and the Human Resources Department will take place.

Communication of Assessment Information
As specified by state regulations, district assessment results will be communicated to the Board of Education annually. Results will also be shared with staff, parents or guardians, and students in a timely manner. A communication process that ensures staff, parents or guardians, and students understand how to interpret assessment results and how to use the results to increase student learning will be implemented at each school. An informational management system will be maintained by the district to permit continuous tracking of individual student progress over time.

Test Security
With regard to test security, members of the public and parents or guardians requesting to review district assessments may do so by contacting the Research Division. To ensure the validity and reliability of test results, district assessment instruments may only be reviewed while the reviewers are in the presence of district staff.
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