Since students often arrive in the class with a broad variety of missing pre-requisite skills, diagnostic assessments are required to determine the skill deficits of each individual. Typically, if educational software products have assessments, they only assess skills at the assigned grade level. Unfortunately, this is not very effective in addressing the needs of underperforming populations. If a student is functioning out of grade level, the typical solution, is to assign sequentially lower levels of tests in order to assess the student correctly, a time consuming and cumbersome process.
New Century worked with researchers at Educational Testing Service (ETS) to develop adaptive diagnostic tests in which the student’s response to the first question will dictate the second question. The response to the second question will dictate the third question. The tests continue to adapt the questions, until the student’s strengths and weaknesses across several strands of learning in mathematics and reading are identified in detail.
Typically, the process is complete in about 45 minutes per curriculum. In the end, the teacher sometimes discovers that the student, who may be in High School, suffers skill deficits at elementary grade levels. For example, if a student did not master division of fractions in elementary school, he certainly will not master it in the context of an algebraic expression. Often filling in a few key gaps in a student’s skill set can allow him to move forward in mastering more complex learning objectives. Only with a detailed understanding of student needs can instruction be assigned successfully for each individual.