A task force made up of assessment staff and communications experts from state education education agencies took feedback from multiple sources, including three parent focus groups, state education agencies, a parent survey and a teacher survey – each with hundreds of responses, and several partners and advocates. The feedback was remarkably consistent overall, and a few themes emerged:
- Simplify. This was addressed in two ways:
- Several key elements of the score report have been made into visual representations, to more clearly promote the information that parents should see and understand; and
- Language was further simplified, where it was possible to do that and still be accurate.
- Parents want to know how their child is doing, and where they need help. The initial effort to reduce the language explaining the “sub-areas,” such as vocabulary and literary text, had the opposite of the intended effect – parents felt they did not have enough information. The task force and the state education chiefs agreed to bring back the language from the 2014-15 reports, with some adjustments, to provide more context to explain the sub-areas.
- Colors. Graphics experts and parent focus groups said that colors convey different values to different people, and sometimes evoke emotions that interfere with understanding. The performance levels graphic on page 1 now uses shades of a single color –purple – to convey achievement from low to high. (White spaces and other markers were added to make sure the graphic is accessible to people with color blindness.)
- Students’ names. Parents and everyone else who reviewed the report design loved the use of students’ names wherever possible. So in at least two locations in the body of the report the student’s name is included.
Key elements in the updated score report design
- States may add language under the graphic that shows the five performance levels to guide parent understanding. Levels 1, 2, and 3 indicate the child “may need additional support to meet expectations at the next grade level.” In levels 4 and 5, that the child is “on track for the next grade level.” In the final high school courses, the language, if included, is adjusted to address student readiness for college and career.
- The updated score report shows the percentage of students at each performance level. From parent focus groups and the parent survey it was clear that parents were looking for a way to gauge how their child is doing compared to others.
- The score report includes Student Growth Percentile. This is one of several state-optional elements – some states will include this and others will not.
- In the graphic at the top of page 2 on the ELA score report, the language to describe the target (50 for reading and 35 for writing) has been greatly simplified to read “met expectations.