Assessments are an Important Part of the Research Process
In order to be fair and to know whether the approach is working, SERP administered assessments for purposes of comparing the academic performance of students who received the programs to those who did not. The assessments included the following:
Core Academic Language Skills Instrument
The Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (CALS-I) is designed to be administered to students in grades 4-8. Comprehending the formal register of academic language requires familiarity with the vocabulary of precision, the ability to unpack abstract information communicated with few words, and the ability to choose appropriate language forms when speaking and writing in school. In addition to the components delineated above, the CALS assesses students' awareness of the academic language register.
Social Perspective Taking Acts Measure
Perspective taking and perspective coordination are measured through surveys at the beginning and end of each school year using an assessment called the Social Perspective Taking Acts Measure (SPTAM), a measure designed to assess children’s ability to acknowledge, articulate, position, and interpret the perspectives of multiple stakeholders in a given social conflict and provide solutions that consider and integrate their different positions. The measure puts students in the shoes of an advisor, who needs to make a recommendation to address social conflicts that occur at the interpersonal, group, and institutional level.
RISE (reading evaluation)
The RISE is a computer-administered diagnostic reading assessment for grades 5-8 that was previously developed in a collaboration among SERP, ETS, and the Boston Public Schools. The RISE measures performance on specific components of reading – including word recognition/decoding, vocabulary, morphological awareness, sentence processing, and reading comprehension – that may be impacting students’ success. The RISE helps to pinpoint areas of need in reading for individuals and for groups of students. The RISE is computer-based, so students can take it in a school computer lab or in their classroom on netbooks.
Reflective Judgement Assessment (complex reasoning)
The Reflective Judgement Assessment (RFJ) is a computer-based assessment that takes most students approximately 30-40 minutes to complete. It is comprised of 5-7 open-ended, short essay items built around subject-area specific dilemmas or ill-structured problems. The responses are then scored with a set of teacher-friendly rubrics, based on extensive research into how the targeted subject-specific concepts and skills develop.
Low Inference Discussion Observation Instrument
The Low Inference Discussion Observation (LIDO) instrument counts instances of well-known conversational ‘moves’ by students and teachers to provide a portrait of the quantity and nature of discussion occurring during classroom lessons (e.g., teachers using open questions, students providing reasoning or evidence to support a claim). The LIDO scores include two overall scores that summarize the teacher talk and student talk count data, as well as scores for individual, specific talk moves.
Word Generation Vocabulary Test
The Word Generation Vocabulary Test is a paper and pencil assessment, which takes approximately 25 minutes to complete. It evaluates whether students are acquiring the words that are explicitly taught in the Word Generation curriculum. It’s a measure of the effectiveness of the curriculum.
Catalyzing Comprehension through Discussion and Debate (CCDD)