Frequently Asked Questions About Our Academic Intervention Tools, Teacher Evaluation Software, Social Emotional Learning Curriculums & More

Educational Vistas is your trusted partner in educational solutions. We are committed to empowering educators, schools, and districts with the tools and resources they need to enhance student learning and success. Whether you are looking for information on key areas such as academic intervention tools, assessment scoring services, CBT assessments, online assessment tools, SEL programs, customized student assessments, student readiness assessments, or teacher evaluation software, we can help. We offer a range of effective intervention tools that help educators tailor instruction to meet individual student needs as well as accurate and efficient assessment scoring to save time and provide valuable insights into student performance.

Below, we have compiled a list of commonly asked questions regarding our services and offerings. If you have any additional questions or concerns, reach out to our knowledgeable team.

Educational Terms

A characteristic that is indicative of competence in a field. (See also aptitude).

Use of standardized tests to evaluate an individual’s performance in a specific area (i.e., cognitive, psychomotor, or physical functioning).

Standardized tests that measure knowledge and skills in academic subject areas (i.e., math, spelling, and reading).

Describe changes in format, response, setting, timing, or scheduling that do not alter in any significant way what the test measures or the comparability of scores. Accommodations are designed to ensure that an assessment measures the intended construct, not the child’s disability. Accommodations affect three areas of testing: 1) the administration of tests, 2) how students are allowed to respond to the items, and 3) the presentation of the tests (how the items are presented to the students on the test instrument). Accommodations may include Braille forms of a test for blind students or tests in native languages for students whose primary language is other than English.

The chronological age in a population for which a score is the median (middle) score. If children who are 10 years and 6 months old have a median score of 17 on a test, the score 17 has an age equivalent of 10-6.

Two or more versions of a test that are considered interchangeable, in that they measure the same constructs in the same ways, are intended for the same purposes, and are administered using the same directions.

An individual’s ability to learn or to develop proficiency in an area if provided with appropriate education or training. Aptitude tests include tests of general academic (scholastic) ability; tests of special abilities (i.e., verbal, numerical, mechanical); tests that assess “readiness” for learning; and tests that measure ability and previous learning that are used to predict future performance.

Tests that measure an individual’s collective knowledge; often used to predict learning potential. See also ability test.

The demand by a community (public officials, employers, and taxpayers) for school officials to prove that money invested in education has led to measurable learning. "Accountability testing" is an attempt to sample what students have learned, or how well teachers have taught, and/or the effectiveness of a school's principal's performance as an instructional leader. School budgets and personnel promotions, compensation, and awards may be affected. Most school districts make this kind of assessment public; it can affect policy and public perception of the effectiveness of taxpayer supported schools and be the basis for comparison among schools. Accountability is often viewed as an important factor in education reform. An assessment system connected to accountability can help identify the needs of schools so that resources can be equitably distributed. In this context, accountability assessment can include such indicators as equity, competency of teaching staff, physical infrastructure, curriculum, class size, instructional methods, existence of tracking, number of higher cost students, dropout rates, and parental involvement as well as student test scores. It has been suggested that test scores analyzed in a disaggregated format can help identify instructional problems and point to potential solutions.

A standardized test designed to efficiently measure the amount of knowledge and/or skill a person has acquired, usually as a result of classroom instruction. Such testing produces a statistical profile used as a measurement to evaluate student learning in comparison with a standard or norm.

School and classroom-based studies initiated and conducted by teachers and other school staff. Action research involves teachers, aides, principals, and other school staff as researchers who systematically reflect on their teaching or other work and collect data that will answer their questions. It offers staff an opportunity to explore issues of interest to them in an effort to improve classroom instruction and educational effectiveness. (Source: Bennett, C.K. "Promoting teacher reflection through action research: What do teachers think?" Journal of Staff Development, 1994, 15, 34-38.)

Outcomes of education involving feelings more than understanding; likes, pleasures ideals, dislikes annoyances, values.

Many educators prefer the description "assessment alternatives" to describe alternatives to traditional, standardized, norm- or criterion-referenced traditional paper and pencil testing. An alternative assessment might require students to answer an open-ended question, work out a solution to a problem, perform a demonstration of a skill, or in some way produce work rather than select an answer from choices on a sheet of paper. Portfolios and instructor observation of students are also alternative forms of assessment.

A type of rubric scoring that separates the whole into categories of criteria that are examined one at a time. Student writing, for example, might be scored on the basis of grammar, organization, and clarity of ideas. Useful as a diagnostic tool. An analytic scale is useful when there are several dimensions on which the piece of work will be evaluated. (See Rubric.)

An example of student work at a specific level on a scoring rubric.

A test intended to measure the test-taker's innate ability to learn, given before receiving instruction.

The Latin root assidere means to sit beside. In an educational context, the process of observing learning; describing, collecting, recording, scoring, and interpreting information about a student's or one's own learning. At its most useful, assessment is an episode in the learning process; part of reflection and autobiographical understanding of progress. Traditionally, student assessments are used to determine placement, promotion, graduation, or retention. In the context of institutional accountability, assessments are undertaken to determine the principal's performance, effectiveness of schools, etc. In the context of school reform, assessment is an essential tool for evaluating the effectiveness of changes in the teaching-learning process.

An assessment that feeds directly, and often immediately, back into revising the course, program, or institution to improve student learning results.

The possession of knowledge about the basic principles of sound assessment practice, including terminology, the development and use of assessment methodologies and techniques, familiarity with standards of quality in assessment. Increasingly, familiarity with alternatives to traditional measurements of learning.

A document that outlines the student learning outcomes and program objectives, the direct and indirect assessment methods used to demonstrate the attainment of each outcome/objective, a brief explanation of the assessment methods, an indication of which outcome(s)/objectives is/are addressed by each method, the intervals at which evidence is collected and reviewed, and the individual(s) responsible for the collection/review of evidence.

An illustrative task or performance opportunity that closely targets defined instructional aims, allowing students to demonstrate their progress and capabilities.

Evaluating by asking for the behavior the learning is intended to produce. The concept of model, practice, feedback in which students know what excellent performance is and are guided to practice an entire concept rather than bits and pieces in preparation for eventual understanding. A variety of techniques can be employed in authentic assessment. The goal of authentic assessment is to gather evidence that students can use knowledge effectively and be able to critique their own efforts. Authentic tests can be viewed as "assessments of enablement," in Robert Glaser's words, ideally mirroring and measuring student performance in a "real-world" context. Tasks used in authentic assessment are meaningful and valuable, and are part of the learning process. Authentic assessment can take place at any point in the learning process. Authentic assessment implies that tests are central experiences in the learning process, and that assessment takes place repeatedly. Patterns of success and failure are observed as learners use knowledge and skills in slightly ambiguous situations that allow the assessor to observe the student applying knowledge and skills in new situations over time.

The amount of effort required after the data collection.

Student performance standards (the level(s) of student competence in a content area.) An actual measurement of group performance against an established standard at defined points along the path toward the standard. Subsequent measurements of group performance use the benchmarks to measure progress toward achievement. Examples of student achievement that illustrate points on a performance scale, used as exemplars. (See Descriptor, Cohort.)

A formative (timely) assessment based on a district curriculum and related State learner expectations.

A group or series of tests or subtests administered; the most common test batteries are achievement tests that include subtests in different areas.

See normal distribution curve.

This could be a senior seminar or designated assessment course. Program learning outcomes can be integrated into assignments.

Involves a systematic inquiry into a specific phenomenon, e.g. individual, event, program, or process. Data are collected via multiple methods often utilizing both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

"Curriculum Based Measurement."

The highest level of performance or score that a test can reliably measure.

This is often designed for individual faculty who wish to improve their teaching of a specific course. Data collected can be analyzed to assess student learning outcomes for a program.

A group whose progress is followed by means of measurements at different points in time.

Faculty assemble samples of student work from various classes and use the “collective” to assess specific program learning outcomes. Portfolios can be assessed by using scoring rubrics; expectations should be clarified before portfolios are examined.

Level at which performance is acceptable.

A group of characteristics, native or acquired, which indicate an individual's ability to acquire skills in a given area.

A test intended to establish that a student has met established minimum standards of skills and knowledge and is thus eligible for promotion, graduation, certification, or other official acknowledgment of achievement.

The practice of combining two or more subtest scores to create an average or composite score. For example, a reading performance score may be an average of vocabulary and reading comprehension subtest scores.

The situation in which the effect of a controlled variable is inextricably mixed with that of another, uncontrolled variable.

This is a procedure that categorizes the content of written documents. The analysis begins with identifying the unit of observation, such as a word, phrase, or concept, and then creating meaningful categories to which each item can be assigned. For example, a student’s statement that “I learned that I could be comfortable with someone from another culture” could be assigned to the category of “Positive Statements about Diversity.” The number of incidents that this type of response occurred can then be quantified and compared with neutral or negative responses addressing the same category.

An abstract, general notion -- a heading that characterizes a set of behaviors and beliefs.

A broad statement of learning as it applies to a specific subject area or learning strand.

General agreement among ratings, gathered independently of one another, where measures should be theoretically related.

A chart used to translate test scores into different measures of performance (e.g., grade equivalents and percentile ranks).

Fundamental knowledge that all students are required to learn in school.

Guidelines or rules that are used to judge performance. Such tests usually cover relatively small units of content and are closely related to instruction. Their scores have meaning in terms of what the student knows or can do, rather than in (or in addition to) their relation to the scores made by some norm group. Frequently, the meaning is given in terms of a cutoff score, for which people who score above that point are considered to have scored adequately (“mastered” the material), while those who score below it are thought to have inadequate scores.

Course-embedded assessment refers to techniques that can be utilized within the context of a classroom (one class period, several or over the duration of the course) to assess students' learning, as individuals and in groups. When used in conjunction with other assessment tools, course-embedded assessment can provide valuable information at specific points of a program. For example, faculty members teaching multiple sections of an introductory course might include a common pre-test to determine student knowledge, skills and dispositions in a particular field at program admission. There are literally hundreds of classroom assessment techniques, limited only by the instructor's imagination (see also embedded assessment).

Criterion-referenced tests determine what test-takers can do and what they know, not how they compare to others. Criterion-referenced tests report on how well students are doing relative to a predetermined performance level on a specified set of educational goals or outcomes included in the curriculum. For example, student scores on tests as indicators of student performance on standardized exams.

A test in which the results can be used to determine a student's progress toward mastery of a content area. Performance is compared to an expected level of mastery in a content area rather than to other students' scores. Such tests usually include questions based on what the student was taught and are designed to measure the student's mastery of designated objectives of an instructional program. The "criterion" is the standard of performance established as the passing score for the test. Scores have meaning in terms of what the student knows or can do, rather than how the test-taker compares to a reference or norm group. Criterion referenced tests can have norms, but comparison to a norm is not the purpose of the assessment. Criterion referenced tests have also been used to provide information for program evaluation, especially to track the success or progress of schools and student populations that have been involved in change or that are at risk of inequity. In this case, the tests are not used to compare teachers, teams or buildings within a district but rather to give feedback on progress of groups and individuals.

The degree to which a curriculum's scope and sequence matches a testing program's evaluation measures, thus ensuring that teachers will use successful completion of the test as a goal of classroom instruction.

Assessment that occurs simultaneously with learning such as projects, portfolios and "exhibitions." Occurs in the classroom setting, and, if properly designed, students should not be able to tell whether they are being taught or assessed. Tasks or tests are developed from the curriculum or instructional materials.

Instructional plan of skills, lessons, and objectives on a particular subject; may be authored by a state, textbook publisher. A teacher typically executes this plan.

A method to measure student progress in academic areas including math, reading, writing, and spelling. The child is tested briefly (1 to 5 minutes) each week. Scores are recorded on a graph and compared to the expected performance on the content for that year. The graph allows the teacher and parents to see quickly how the child’s performance compares to expectations.

Score used to determine the minimum performance level needed to pass a competency test. (See Descriptor for another type of determiner.)

A set of signs used as a scale against which a performance or product is placed in an evaluation. An example from Grant Wiggins' Glossary of Useful Terms Related to Authentic and Performance Assessments is taken from "the CAP writing test where a 5 out of a possible 6 is described: 'The student describes the problem adequately and argues convincingly for at least one solution . . . without the continual reader awareness of the writer of a 6.'"Descriptors allow assessment to include clear guidelines for what is and is not valued in student work. Wiggins adds that "[t]he word 'descriptor' reminds us that justifiable value judgments are made by know how to empirically describe the traits of work we do and do not value." (Emphasis his.)

A score to which raw scores are converted by numerical transformation (e.g., conversion of raw scores to percentile ranks or standard scores).

A test used to diagnose, analyze or identify specific areas of weakness and strength; to determine the nature of weaknesses or deficiencies; diagnostic achievement tests are used to measure skills.

Aspects or categories in which performance in a domain or subject area will be judged. Separate descriptors or scoring methods may apply to each dimension of the student's performance assessment.

These methods involve students' displays of knowledge and skills (e.g. test results, written assignments, presentations, classroom assignments) resulting from learning experiences in the class/program.

A means of gathering information about student learning that is built into and a natural part of the teaching learning process. Often used for assessment purposes in classroom assignments that are evaluated to assign students a grade. Can assess individual student performance or aggregate the information to provide information about the course or program; can be formative or summative, quantitative or qualitative. Example: as part of a course, expecting each senior to complete a research paper that is graded for content and style, but is also assessed for advanced ability to locate and evaluate Web-based information (as part of a college-wide outcome to demonstrate information literacy).