Assessment Audits: Tools for Early Identification and Intervention

Is your district spending too much time and money on assessment?

Are you collecting data that doesn’t get used?

Do you struggle to keep up with state and federal testing requirements?

Assessment is an essential component of effective educational delivery systems. However, many districts struggle to find the right combination of answering important questions about student learning, while minimizing time away from instruction.

If your district has been adding assessments year after year, but you still aren't able to quickly answer key questions about academic and behavioral targets, it might be time to conduct an assessment audit.

What is An Assessment Audit?

An assessment audit provides the opportunity to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of your assessment system.  The goals of an assessment audit include eliminating redundancy, uncovering gaps, increasing consistency across buildings and grade levels, and creating a comprehensive assessment system.

Comprehensive Assessment System

A comprehensive assessment system is designed around 4 clear questions. Assessments should be selected that are specifically designed for the purpose of answering each question.


Assessment Purpose

Who needs support?


What support is needed?


Is the support working?

Progress Monitoring

Did the support work?

Outcome Evaluation

Screening: Who needs support?

The purpose of screening is early identification and intervention.  Many academic and social-behavioral concerns can be prevented, minimized or successfully remediated if caught early. Screening tools must be brief, predictive, standardized, reliable and valid.  Screening assessments should be selected based on what they predict in the future and how accurately they predict future performance.

Diagnostic: What support is needed?

Knowing who is at risk is only the beginning. Diagnostic assessments answer questions about how much support is needed for students to reach district goals, and exactly what should be the next step for instruction. Diagnostic tools can be formal or informal. A subcategory of diagnostic tests inform entitlement decisions such as special education service delivery.

Progress Monitoring:  Is the support working?

Progress monitoring is the use of alternate forms, at the same level of difficulty, to track student growth toward important future outcomes. Progress monitoring tools must be sensitive to small amounts of growth and change in brief increments, in order to provide real time feedback to the instructor about the effectiveness of instruction. Evidence-based practices should be evaluated for each student within a data-based decision making framework, made possible by the visual display of student progress relative to instruction. 

Outcome Evaluation: Did the support work?

Assessments for outcome evaluation provide a way to look back to see if important outcomes and milestones were met.  Traditional achievement tests and methods of program evaluation fit this purpose.  Assessments used for outcome evaluation must be comprehensive yet specific to the goals articulated by the district.

An Example: Acadience™ Reading

An example of an assessment that meets three of the four purposes of assessment is Acadience Reading (also published as DIBELS® Next).  The Acadience suite of assessments includes screening and progress monitoring for pre-K to high school in reading and math, and diagnostic assessment in reading. More information about Acadience can be found at

NSBA Conference Presentation

At the 2019 annual conference of the National School Boards Association, Dr. Roland Good and Dr. Stephanie Stollar will present a free tool to help your district conduct an assessment audit.  Presentation 211 will be held in room 115a on Monday April 1 at 8:30 am.

Step By Step Learning®, your Platinum sponsor, will be hosting Dr. Good and Dr. Stollar at Booth 607 in the “Sponsors area” on the show floor. Don’t miss their presentations, check them out here:

Learn how Step By Step Learning's professional development and consulting services can increase your reading outcomes at

©2019 Acadience™ is a trademark of Dynamic Measurement Group, Inc.  The DIBELS® trademark is owned by the University of Oregon, used with permission.  Step By Step Learning® is a registered trademark of Step By Step Learning, Inc.

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