Philosophy of Assessment

At West Allegheny, we place a strong value on drawing from multiple measures to determine individual development and seek to foster a growth mindset that promotes self-improvement, goal setting and the idea that learning is an individualized concept. In addition, we believe in educating the whole child and in the value of using assessment as a tool for self-inquiry and improvement. At applicable grade levels, we use CDT results, Study Island Benchmarks, and other testing means to identify curriculum, instruction and assessment areas of self-growth among both students and staff.  The PSSA is another form of assessment that is a valuable tool to promote growth for students and staff.  With our staff, we use PSSA results to identify grade-level trends, areas of strength and areas that we need to target for improvement.  For our students, we use these results so that we can learn more about our individual student’s level of need and areas of strength.  We greatly value these tests to ensure that our educational community of students and staff are continually growing and learning.  Furthermore, PSSA’s provide a practice opportunity for middle school students with standardized assessments before they reach high school and take some of the most important standardized tests they will ever take: SAT, ACT, AP Exams, NOCTI.  

Elementary Assessments

The Accelerated Reader is a screening assessment tool that is computer-based and monitors reading practice and progress. It helps teachers guide students to books that are on the students' individual reading levels. Students take short quizzes after reading a book to check if they've understood it. There is a STAR Accelerated Reader Vocabulary Assessment test given to students in the fall and spring that identifies student understanding of vocabulary. Based on their performance, individual reading ranges are identified for each student so that they may select independent reading materials within the appropriate range of difficulty.
The easy CBM (Curriculum Based Measure) is a screening, benchmark assessment that measures student progress in the literacy skills of comprehension and vocabulary and is administered in grades 3-5 three times a year.
DIBELS (The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) are individually administered screening, benchmark measures of student skills in key basic early literacy skills. DIBELS assesses the acquisition of early literacy skills from kindergarten through grade 2 and is administered three times a year.
The CDT (Classroom Diagnostic Tool) is an interim, diagnostic assessment tool that measures mastery of the Pennsylvania standards-aligned grade level mathematics and literacy skills and concepts that are evaluated on the PSSA exam. There is a correlation between performance on the CDT and proficiency on the PSSA. It is given in grades 3-5 in the fall and winter.
The PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) is a standardized, summative evaluation tool administered in grades 3-5 in the areas of mathematics and English Language Arts. It is given in the spring and measures mastery of the Pennsylvania standards-aligned grade level mathematics and literacy skills.