Definitions of Common Assessment Terms

Accountability concerns the obligation of comprehensive school improvement planning, reporting, explaining, or justifying standards, making these components responsible, explicable and answerable.
This term refers to any test instrument or other student achievement evaluation method used to measure student learning and performance.
This term refers to data collected following the initial administration of an assessment instrument, and is designed to establish an agreed upon point from which to measure future student progress.
This is a term used to describe the standard for judging a performance. Teachers and students can use benchmarks to determine the quality of a student's work. Benchmarks can be used to tell what students should know by a particular stage of their schooling; for example, "By the end of the sixth grade, a student should be able to locate major cities and other geographical features on each of the continents."
Criterion-Referenced Test (CRT)  
A CRT is an assessment instrument focused on the achievement of measurable standards. In Arkansas, mathematics and ELA test items are based on the academic standards in the Arkansas Standards and measured using the ACT Aspire assessment. The ACT Aspire assessment focuses on achievement of learning that will gauge a student’s readiness for college and career. 
Longitudinal Study
This type of study refers to the examination of data over a period of years or decades to determine patterns and trends.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
NAEP, also known as The Nation's Report Card, is a federally funded program that provides a nationwide and state-by-state analysis of student achievement. NAEP tests a representative sample of students in Grades 4, 8, and 12 each year and reports the results to the public.
Norm-Referenced Test (NRT)
A Norm-Referenced Test (NRT) is an assessment in which test items are built around a set of curricular objectives. The test provides information that compares the performance of students against the performance of a sample of students from across the country.
Performance Assessments
A performance assessment requires students to use knowledge and skills in a way that demonstrates accomplishment and expertise. This assessment differs from a conventional paper-and-pencil test in a similar way that a road test for a driver’s license assesses driving “performance” while the written test assesses knowledge of driving facts and rules. 
Professional Development  
Professional development is a set of planned learning activities for teachers and administrators which are standards-based and continuous. Professional development should result in individual, school-wide, and system-wide improvement. Approved professional development activities are linked to the school's improvement plan and demonstrate research-based best practice.
A standard is a statement that tells what students are expected to know and be able to do within a content strand.
A strand is a general category of learning standards in a content area.
Student Learning Expectation
A student specific learning objective to be introduced, taught, and mastered.
Effective Date: September 1, 2014
Revised Date: August 22, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Sheree Baird, Public School Program Coordinator
Arkansas Department of Education
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Student Assessment
Four Capitol Mall, Room 301-B
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Phone: (501) 682-4559
Fax: (501) 682-4886