K-12 Standards & Assessment Analysis


i-pel provides K-12 standards and assessment analysis and implementation services. The initial focus when analyzing a state, district or schools standards and assessment program starts with a look at just what kind of assessment program is being used. The only two methods of assessment are comparing the quality of student work to the work of other students or to an objective standard. This may sound simple but it is actually quite complex (see: K-12 Standards and Assessment for an in depth look at the issues).

Many district and schools are in the progress of converting teaching and learning from comparative assessment programs to standards-based performance programs. State standards include expectations ranging from factual recall and declarative knowledge through complex requirements that entail demonstration of student proficiency in ways that a typical multiple-choice test cannot possibly address. Although state tests may evaluate student performance on a few state standards, comprehensive and meaningful assessment of academic standards can only take place in the classroom. It is therefore essential that classroom assessment be clearly linked to the standards, in content and complexity.

The vast majority of districts and schools require significant improvement in the quality of classroom assessment. Neither administrators nor teachers can offer a compelling alternative to the flaws of standardized testing if the assessments used in the classroom do not generate valid and reliable alternative assessments that are clearly related to the academic requirements of the state standards. In addition, as more schools, districts, states and even the federal government have begun to embrace personalized learning (see: Personalized/Blende-based eLearning) that helps students master content on their own schedule, whether it’s faster or slower than their same-age peers, is coming into conflict with standards-based accountability.

Schools that believe standardized tests are the best measures of student learning arrange their classrooms and use instructional time and teaching techniques differently from the schools that believe students’ actual performance is the more important measure of learning. In the former case, classrooms are organized for students to learn sequences of skills and knowledge in a more directive, teacher-centered manner. In the latter case, students have more open-ended opportunities in classroom activities and discussions.

Schools need to take a close look at how they assess individual students, how they use such individual assessments, and how they report such assessment to students and parents, since assessment is a powerful influence on teaching. The school community’s very involvement in deciding about assessment devices changes teaching. The high school that requires a year-long performance exhibition that integrates communication, physical representation, and a written scientific rationale as a graduation requirement now forces the curriculum, instructional programs, and staff development across departments to be more reflective of such integrative assessment.

Some of the questions i-pel answers:

  • Are the school’s current testing and assessment practices flexible to change?
  • Are there glaring gaps between what the school claims to believe about learning and what it assesses?
  • Is how student learning is recorded (report cards, progress reports) consistent flexible to change?
  • Are the results of student learning assessments used constructively to guide future planning of work among faculty members, students, and the rest of the community?
  • How can parents, other community members, and students become more involved in the development and implementation of new assessment procedures and reports?



Many school districts need to include a well-designed assessments program to ensure that students are learning and making progress even though many are short on time and resources. i.pel creates strategic partnerships with both school organizations and outside vendors to provide cost effective implementation of the most contemporary content.

I-pel’s expertise in test construction and consultation ensures that the assessments students are taking provide the data evidence of student learning that districts and schools need to inform instruction and monitor progress to be able to make informed decisions.

ESSA now allows school districts to include more local, multiple measures as evidence of student progress and achievement. Accuracy and reliability of these measures are highly dependent on the design of the assessments and quality of the assessment questions.

Effective content is built to the level of rigor expected within the college and career ready standard and items are designed to elicit the evidence required by the standards which is not simply the recall of knowledge. For example, much of our content requires students to tap into higher order thinking; to compare; to analyze; synthesize what they read; or to apply and integrate concepts and skills to solve problems.

Using learning content the district assessment service teams coordinate the development of assessments that are customized and aligned specifically with each district’s unique instructional and standards guidelines. This match of instruction and assessment is critical for providing data that can be used for formative feedback to inform the concepts, skills and level of rigor that needs to be emphasized in daily instructions.

A cost effective collaborative process is implemented to customize assessment to meet each district’s unique data needs. The data is reflective of the district’s instructional progress. During the design phase we work with districts to determine the purpose of the assessment and how the data is intended to be used.

Review of district’s specifications

  • Administrative time-lines
  • Mode of delivery
  • The standards to be assessed
  • Number of items to be included
  • Item types

Create test worksheet

  • Select passages and items

Client review and approval

  • Test will be constructed and published

Test can be published in pdf format to be printed locally or in a QTI format and delivered to an assessment platform for online administration.

i-pel is overly committed to teaching and learning by connecting assessment, data, and instruction – because it really is all about student learning.



i.pel designs and implements creative and meaningful rubric assessments that ascertain a student’s true  proficiency in the performance-based environments of personalized and blending learning methodologies. Rubrics have the ability to assess beyond the true/false and multiple choice of summative assessment. Unlike a traditional grade, which summarizes all aspects of students’ performance in a single number, letter or word, a rubric provides information on students’ performance on each of a subject’s criteria.  This gives a profile of students’ ability, in a formative context which is much broader than standardize testing format. Since standardize testing has its place in an innovative and balanced objective and subjective learning environment a well design rubrics should be integrated with summative assessments. Because performance-based learning is naturally progressive the more creative a rubric the better.

Schools in Finland are are getting more into formative assessment than before and want teachers to get away from summative or grade assessments at least for grades 1 to 7. In grades 8 to 9 teachers will have to use grade but also formative and self-assessment evaluations.

What is a Rubrics

A rubric is a scoring tool outlining required criteria for a piece of work, or what is important to assess. It also indicates the weighting that has been determined for each criterion, based on its relative importance to the overall task, and describes what the performance would look like at different quality levels.  If the students receive this before beginning the task, they can more easily internalize the criteria, understand how they will be assessed and thus the performance level they should be striving for. Ideally, teachers develop this together with students, though it can be pre-prepared so the teacher can give it to the students for comments before the beginning of a task. A checklist or assessment list is a simpler version of a rubric, specifying the criteria but it only gives the highest level of performance, not all the performance levels.

Rubrics assessment provides feedback that should commend the students on areas of proficient or exemplary work and simultaneously point the student and teacher toward those areas that require improvement. Only an analytical scoring guide, with a separate score awarded to the student after task, can do that. By creating a scoring guide for each performance task and offering students feedback immediately after each task rather than after completing the entire assessment, the teacher automatically differentiates instruction and assessment in the manner most appropriate for student learning.

The four-part development of a rubric assessment includes:

  • Task Description
  • Scale
  • Dimensions
  • Dimension descriptions

i.pel rubric assessments focuses on:

  • Improving and monitoring student performance through teacher expectations
  • Use as a guide for self/peer assessment
  • Increased validity, reliability and fairness in scoring
  • Student profile of performance, describing strengths and weaknesses
  • Reduced amount of time spent by teachers on evaluating students’ work
  • The accommodation of heterogeneous classes
  • Teachers and students accountability and awareness of learning objectives
  • Easy of understanding and use

For more on rubrics see: Assessment Rubrics



i-pel provides modified testing and assessment procedures for children with ADD. Because of the children’s language and organizational weaknesses written tests and assessments present particular difficulties for children with attentional problems. I-pel uses alternative methods of assessment, such as oral testing or demonstration testing. This provides the ADD child with ample opportunities to show divergent, creative, and imaginative thinking and to receive recognition for originality. Children are also allowed to doodle or squeeze a soft ball during assessments because some children with ADD are better able to focus and attend when they are doing something with their hands.



In conjunction with state and district administrators’ i-pel provides third party standards and assessment certification to ensure that existing standards and testing programs, both written and digital, conform to state and local education codes and regulations.

Programs include:

  • Standardize Tests
  • Advanced Placement Exams
  • International Baccalaureate Exams
  • Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT Reasoning TEST)
  • Basic Education Skills Test
  • Preliminary Administrative Service Credential Exams
  • Subject Examinations for Teachers
  • Teacher of English Learners Exam
  • Reading Instruction Competence Assessment Test

Evaluations include but are not limited to:

  • Review of test objectives
  • Review and validation of test items
  • Review and critique question conformity & relativity
  • Field testing new test items
  • Identifying marker responses
  • Analysis of score thresholds
  • Bias analysis

Contact us for discussion of our K-12 Standards and Assessment services.