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An Introduction to the Delaware System of Student Assessments (DeSSA)
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017 10:59 AM

Delaware students will take two tests in the Spring of 2017, the Smarter ELA & Mathematics and Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) Science and End of Course (EOC) assessments. The exams show what students learned during the school year and allow schools to change their curricula to better prepare children for higher grades.

Will your child take the DeSSA tests?

According to the Delaware System of Student Assessments (DeSSA) 2016 – 2017 Calendar, if you reside in Delaware and have children in grades 3 through 8, they will take the Smarter Balanced tests in mathematics and English language arts between March 8 and June 1, 2017. These exams align with State Standards developed between 2010 and 2013. The Delaware State Board of Education adopted the Smarter Balanced Assessment in the 2014-2015 school year to better evaluate student learning in the two subjects. The newer tests require students and teachers to delve deeper into math and English, and answer questions that involve writing and critical thinking. The state standards tests involved only multiple-choice questions.
Delaware students in Grades 5, 8 and 10 will also complete testing for the DCAS Science standards between March 1 and June 1, 2017, and students taking Algebra II and Intermediate Math III will be tested on End of Course standards between March 29 and June 1, 2017.
Unlike the Common Core State Standards, the DeSSA is personalized to a district's needs. School administrators can choose which subjects and topics to test students on to assess better what they do not understand about a particular area. Students take these tests online and make it easier for teachers to backtrack and assist students in relearning where they did not do well on other standardized tests.

What are the tests' purposes?

The Delaware State Board of Education noted the Smarter Balanced Assessments aim to see if students know the proper information to move on to the next grade. They will then be better prepared to face college entrance exams and learn once they arrive at universities or other postsecondary education institutions. Students must also hone their essay writing and cognitive thinking skills to do well on DeSSA testing.

How can you help? 

These standardized tests do not provide curricula or lesson plans for parents and teachers to follow. However, what students must know to pass the exams greatly affects their performance. The entire school year's materials focus on this necessary subject matter, so daily assignments and learning all contribute to test preparation. You can encourage your children to try practice tests as well so they can become familiar with the different answer options and ease their anxiety about what the exams will look like.

Key Words

Delaware System of Student Assessments (DeSSA), Smarter Balanced Assessment, Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) Science and End of Course (EOC), DeSSA 2017 Calendar, Algebra II and Intermediate Math III EOC, DCAS Science, Smarter ELA & Mathematics