Assessment Glossary 

Important terms to explain how students are assessed


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Paced Interim Assessments (PIA)

The Paced Interim Assessment (PIA) is administered four times a year to students in participating schools in grades 2 to 10.

The assessment covers targeted standards from each unit and shows what knowledge and skills students have mastered, and where instructional time and resources need to be focused.  The fifth PIA, administered in June, assesses student mastery of the most essential skills as listed on the DCPS scope and sequence documents.

Learn more about DCPS scope and sequence »

Achievement Network Assessment (ANet)

The Achievement Network (ANet) Assessment is another type of paced interim assessment, used at approximately one-sixth of schools in DCPS. It is aligned to the ANet Schedule of Assessed Standards and administered four times a year to students in grades 3 to 8. All four assessment cycles are administered prior to the state summative assessment, DC CAS.

District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS)

The District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) is a summative assessment administered by the state that assesses students in the following subjects and grade levels:

  • Reading in grades 2 to 10
  • Math in grades 2 to 8 and 10
  • Composition in grades 4, 7, and 10
  • Science in grades 5 and 8, and Biology in high school
  • Health in grades 5, 8, and high school

While DCPS oversees the administration of the test, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is responsible for the overall management of the assessment for all schools in DC.  For more information, please visit the OSSE website

District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System Alternative (DC CAS Alt)

The DC CAS-ALT is a portfolio assessment given to those students who have significant cognitive disabilities that prevent them from participating in the general assessment (DC CAS) even with accommodations and/or modifications.  

It is administered to a smaller number of students in grades 3 to 8 and 10 in Reading and Math; composition in grades 4, 7 and 10; and Science in grades 5, 8 and Biology. The portfolio is created throughout the school year with submission during the Spring.

For more information, please visit the OSSE website »

National Assessment Educational Progress (NAEP)

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or The Nation’s Report Card is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation’s students know and can do on core subjects like mathematics, reading, science and writing.

The results of the NAEP, assessed biannually, are used to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States.

More information on NAEP can be found in OSSE’s website »

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assesses students' foundational reading skills in grades K-5. The DIBELS assessments are designed to be short fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of early literacy and early reading skills, and are comprised of seven measures to function as indicators of phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency with connected text, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. 

School-wide Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI)

The School-wide Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) is a reading assessment test that assesses students' reading levels and helps teachers adjust instruction according to students' needs, track students' reading growth over time, and match readers to text. Scholastic Reading Inventory is for all students in grades 6-10 and is administered school-wide each year at the beginning and end of the year.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)

What is PARCC?

PARCC is a new annual test used to measure students’ progress in English Language Arts and Math. PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a consortium of states (including the District of Columbia) working together to develop a common set of K-12 online tests in English and Math with a focus on preparation for college and careers. These tests are being field tested in the spring of 2014 for use in DCPS starting next year.

Why are we switching to PARCC?

Starting in school year 2014-15, students will no longer take the DC CAS and will instead take the PARCC test. We are switching to the PARCC tests because they will better measure students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for college and career success, while also matching to Common Core standards.  PARCC will provide schools with vital information about students’ progress so that educators can both improve instruction and also provide student support where needed. 

What are the main differences between the DC CAS and PARCC?

What is field testing and when is it?

Test developers use field testing to ensure that their questions are fair, challenging, and high-quality while schools use it to make sure they are fully prepared to administer the test next year. This spring (April 28-June 6), a select group of classrooms across grade levels will take some part of the PARCC—no DCPS student will take the entire test.  Students and their families will be notified individually if a student will be taking the test.

Details about field testing:

  • The total estimated time each student will spend testing varies from 2.5 to 3.5 hours a day depending on the grade, subject, and the number of sessions in each subject. Each student can expect to test for between one to three days during the testing window.
  • Students With Disabilities (SWD) and English Language Learners (ELL) will participate in the field test. During administration of the field test, some accessibility features and accommodations that are embedded in the online testing platform will not be available yet. Students will still receive accommodations, but just not on the computer.  
  • Because the purpose of field testing is to test-drive the assessment, students will not receive a score. The field test is only a practice test for DC Public Schools, the school, and the student.  The results will be analyzed by test developers to determine whether the questions measure the intended skills at the intended grade level.


Where can I find more information about PARCC?

This is the official PARCC website and here is a more extensive FAQ.

The National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) Alternate Assessment

The National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) is a partnership of states and organizations developing a comprehensive alternate assessment system that will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. This technology-based (online), summative assessment will replace the current alternate assessment system, the DC CAS-Alt, and will address curriculum, instruction, and assessment needs of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

For more information, please visit the NCSC Partners website »

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