The Colorado Basic Literacy Act (CBLA), enacted in 1997, required schools to screen students, and for those reading below grade level, to provide interventions. Pearson's Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA2) was approved assessment for the CBLA.
The Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (Colorado READ Act) was passed in 2012 and replaced the CBLA as of July 1, 2013—although districts have until July 1, 2016 to transition to the approved interim assessments. Pearson’s aimsweb was approved as an interim assessment for the READ Act; the DRA2 was not.
The DRA2 was primarily designed to help teachers focus reading instruction. The DRA2 helps teachers assess a student’s independent reading level, and gauge a student's strengths and weaknesses in relation to reading engagement, oral reading fluency, and comprehension skills and strategies. Since the DRA2 also determines a student's instructional reading level, it met the CBLA requirement for screening below grade level.
The READ Act is focused on identifying and progress monitoring students with significant reading deficiencies. The assessments best suited for such purposes should have specific qualities:
- Equivalent forms to assess students at least three times per year—ideally enough equivalent forms to monitoring struggling students as frequently as weekly
- Data-based cut scores—ideally offering multiple and customizable options including predictive benchmarks, local norms, or national norms to ensure appropriateness to the student population
- Predictive—ideally empirically predicting success or failure for individual students on the end-of-year summative test
- Sensitivity to growth—ideally sensitive enough to determine whether an intervention is working within as little as eight to ten weeks
Pearson has decided not to resubmit the DRA2 to Colorado Department of Education for consideration. Collecting additional data or expanding the Kindergarten forms may result in providing more data support, but would not change the fact that using the DRA2 as a READ Act interim assessment is to use it in a manner it was not designed for. Instead Pearson recommends aimsweb, which was designed specifically to benchmark and progress monitor. aimsweb has all the qualities listed above, and was rated highly by the Colorado Interim Assessment Review Committee.
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