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In Alaska students are assessed throughout the course of their education based on local, state and federal requirements. The No Child Left Behind Act calls for testing of students in Literacy and Math in grades 3-8 and again in high school. These assessments serve a number of purposes: they monitor student progress, highlight areas of instructional strength and weakness, and they represent the progress schools are making at teaching all students up to the standards laid out in the state’s curriculum.
The Alaska Comprehensive System of Student Assessment (CSSA) is the overall term used for the system by which students are assessed. It is comprised of a number of tests that students will take during their school years; not all of which are intended to measure proficiency in the subject matter. Some of the assessments are diagnostic in nature and will help teachers plan for instruction. However, there are a core of assessments that are aligned to state teaching and learning standards that will require students to demonstrate proficiency in the subject areas.
In grades 3-8 students take the Standards Based Assessments (SBA’s) in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. This assessment asks questions in multiple-choice, short-response and extended-response formats. Additionally, there is a writing prompt that calls for higher level critical writing.
The Science Standards Based Assessment given to students in 4th, 8th and 10th also requires students to respond in multiple-choice, short-response and extended-response formats. The High School Graduation Qualifying Examination (HSGQE) in Reading, Writing and Mathematics gives students multiple-choice, short-response and extended-response questions. For all the assessments, the constructed responses are scored by trained professionals.
The questions that appear on the Standards Based Assessments (SBA’s) and the High School Graduation Qualifying Examination (HSGQE) reflect the design of the curriculum. The Alaska Standards were established as a series of guidelines on how to organize each subject matter and teach the core components so that all students achieve the expected standards and objectives of learning. In Mathematics, students are expected to gain proficiency in the areas of: number theory and operations, measurement, estimation, computation, number patterns, functions and relationships, solving equations, geometry, organizing and analyzing data, and probability.