New Meridian Launches Start Strong Assessment

New Meridian’s Start Strong Assessment, a beginning-of-year screening test that can be administered in a single period and delivers quick feedback, will be available in August.

The test, which covers math and English in grades 3 to 8, is based on the most critical learning standards and offers immediate insight into the missed opportunities to learn brought about by pandemic-related school closures. That insight will be important as schools reopen this fall. 

“This is a unique and challenging time for American educators,” said Kristopher John, vice president for product strategy at New Meridian. “They are being asked to make major decisions with a minimum of data. Start Strong is designed to address that. We created it specifically to meet their immediate needs.”   

When schools reopen in the fall, districts will not have the benefit of the state’s annual summative assessment data to guide decision making and planning. The Start Strong assessment helps address this, by allowing educators to make informed, data-driven decisions about allocating resources, such as learning specialists and other needed student supports. Equally important, it allows administrators and teachers to make the most of limited instruction time and to accelerate learning.

“Classroom time will be precious when we head back to school,” John said. “Teachers will have to be deliberate about what they should cover in-class versus through remote instruction. The Start Strong assessment allows educators to be intentional about how they allocate that time.”

A Powerful and Flexible Solution

Start Strong’s multiple-choice and technology-enhanced assessment items are machine scorable, offering teachers, schools and districts valuable feedback on where students stand in the learning process.

Teachers use Start Strong data to focus teaching and scaffolds on the needs of students, select instructional materials, and provide the right level of support to students. Districts use Start Strong data to allocate supplemental funding and services, assign math and ELA coaches where they are most needed and plan professional development. The assessment data also helps educators keep parents well informed.

“We thought really hard about the type of decisions various stakeholders would need to make to efficiently and effectively support students,” said Amy Reilly, director of product management at New Meridian. “We let that drive the test design and product reporting features.”

A Rich Set of Data

Start Strong offers seamless online delivery and can be administered at school or at home, allowing educators to adjust to changing circumstances. Students can take the test from home using their own computers. 

The rich data set offers educators information that is easy to understand and can be put to use immediately. The assessment offers:

● Support level classifications, which indicate the level of a support a student will likely need as they begin the new school year.

● Major content scores for all the major content standards in each grade level.

● Multiple views of the data.

Documentation is also available to smooth implementation and reduce the time it takes to administer the test and interpret results. This includes administration manuals and a comprehensive report interpretation guide for teachers and district administrators, which will help translate student scores directly into strategies for teaching and learning.

“Now more than ever, educators need information,” John said. “The Start Strong Assessment offers is a practical pathway to data-driven decisions.”