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District Benchmark Assessments (DBA)

Information for parents about District Benchmark Assessments (DBA) and how they're used in the classroom to measure your student's progress.

Links: Standards Based Assessment | School Ratings (AYP) | NMPED SBA Information

Your child may have told you recently that he or she took the DBA at school. And you may be wondering, what is a DBA? Who takes it? How often? And, most importantly, why?

What are benchmark assessments?

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the District Benchmark Assessments (Chamiza ES)Benchmark assessments are tests that monitor student's progress within specific subject areas over the course of the school year. The District Benchmark Assessments (DBA) are given in APS schools to show teachers what concepts their students understand and identify areas where students may be struggling.

The tests are created by a team of APS teachers and administrators based on state standards, the same standards that students will be tested on in the spring when they take the New Mexico Standards Based Assessments (SBA).

What is the difference between District Benchmark Assessments and Standards Based Assessments?

District Benchmark Assessments are designed as classroom tools for teachers to evaluate academic progress throughout the year.

Standards Based Assessments are state-mandated tests given to students throughout New Mexico (NMPED's SBA page) in 3-8th and 11th grades each year to assess whether they meet grade-specific state standards. Standards Based Assessments are used to rate schools (more about school ratings).

Who takes the test?

All APS students in 1-11th grade take the DBA. The DBA is unique to Albuquerque Public Schools, though all school districts are required to give some sort of benchmark test (often known as a "short-cycle assessment") to measure how students are doing throughout the school year.

What subject areas are students tested in?

  • Grades 1-5: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Each assessment contains content standards that reflect the content that has been taught in the classroom up to that point in time.
  • Grades 6-8: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Math and Reading
  • Grades 9-11: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Algebra I & II, Geometry, and Reading

How are the test scores used to improve my child's education?

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the

The test scores are designed as a classroom tool for teachers to:

  • Measure student progress
  • Individualize instruction to meet student needs
  • Use for AIPs (Academic Improvement Plans)

How is student improvement measured?

Student improvement is measured by how the student performs on each of the three district benchmark assessments. Each assessment contains questions that reflect what is being taught in class. The second and third tests also present students with more challenging questions for material taught at the beginning of the year, encouraging them to apply their knowledge in new ways.

Schools expect proficiency scores at the beginning of the school year to be low, since many concepts haven't yet been taught. They expect to see some improvement in the second test, and significant improvement on the spring exam.

How do I get a copy of my student's scores?

Contact your child's school to get copies of DBA scores.

How are the tests given?

Most schools give out the tests using paper and pencil. Test scores are scanned by the student's teacher. Some schools are starting to use online reading assessments. Check with your school to find out more about how the tests are given.

Are the tests also available in Spanish?

Right now, only the math assessments have been translated into Spanish. The district plans on providing Spanish reading assessments in the future.

Are my student's scores being compared to other students?

No. Test scores are used to measure a student's understanding of material being taught in the classroom throughout the year. A student's test scores are not compared to other students. Teachers use the results to identify concepts students are having difficulty grasping in order to give them more individualized attention and feedback.

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