Saturday, October 19, 2013

Assessing Quandary

As I walk out of my office knee deep in MEAP I shake my head and think there must be a better way.

Most people know that I am not an advocate for standardized testing or testing in general.  With that being said I feel it's important to clarify my position and thoughts.

Let's start with Standardized Testing, my big issues are these: Attaching funding, using the scores to determine school value (AYP, Focus, Priority, etc...), turnaround on results, format of tests and the questions.  In short I have many issues with standardized tests. They were never designed to be "High Stakes".  Supposably this is the final year of our MEAP test, but then next Spring we get to begin Smarter Balanced assessing.  I'm not looking forward to it.  I will hope for the best, but expect to be frustrated and annoyed.  I feel as though I'm a positive person, but testing sucks that inner positivity out of me.

Next, the complexity of Quarterly Common Assessments.  For four+ years we have worked to create district common assessments.  I believe our thinking has been in the correct place.  The goal is to gather data that drives instruction, increases collaboration between classes/schools, review the data for differentiating, and keep classrooms appropriately paced.

All this testing and attempted testing makes me reflect and think about what is most important.

We can all agree there are really two types of tests: Formative and summative.  Formative assessments should and typically do occur on a daily basis.  This is simply good teaching.  Teachers formatively assess to gauge student understanding and confidence in the topic.  Summative is a little different. This now takes understanding to a different level.  In summative assessments we now put a number or level on the learning.  I don't think this will go away.  

Almost none of what I have stated is groundbreaking or rocket science.  I do believe we should be looking at doing something different from what we have been doing.

I believe we need to Universal Screen students with a screening tool.  There are many tools out there. I've talked with others about various tools: AIMSweb, DIBELS, MAP and PALS.  I'm not an expert on these tools.  I will say that I've talked with @susankhaney about MAP and it intrigues me.  So why a Universal Screener?  

I believe this sums it up well: Screening is conducted to identify or predict students who may be at risk for poor learning outcomes. Universal screening tests are typically brief, conducted with all students at a grade level, and followed by additional testing or short-term progress monitoring to corroborate students’ risk status.

What Do We Seek in a Screen?

Screening approaches should satisfy three criteria (Jenkins, 2003). First is classification accuracy—a good screen accurately classifies students as at- risk or not at-risk for reading failure. Second is efficiency—because screening is universal, the procedure must not be too costly, time-consuming, and cumbersome to implement. Good screens can be administered, scored, and interpreted quickly and accurately. Third is consequential validity—overall, the net effect for students must be positive (Messick, 1989). This means students identified as at risk for failure must receive timely and effective intervention, and no students or groups should be shortchanged.

As we move forward I do not know what will happen with Common Assessments. I do know that we have struggled for years.  I believe a valid solution is Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring. The Universal Screening would take place in the beginning, middle and end of the year.  We would progress monitor as interventions take place, and teachers would continuously do formative assess. This to me is the best model.  This would allow us to best use our RTI resources and to observe student growth.

This week's big question:  As an educator, what are your thoughts on Universal Screenings?

Next Week At A Glance:

Tuesday, October 22nd:  Fall Festival 5:30-7:30pm
Wednesday, October 23rd:  All School Assembly in Gym at 8:45 (CP Fed. Credit Union)
Wednesday, October 23rd:  iPad Media Camp at Warner El. 3:30-4:30 topic is interactive writing/blogging  check out -

Friday, October 25th:  5th Grade College For A Day
Friday, October 25th:  Staff Meeting in Mrs. Hurt's classroom at 8am

*  Our Lockdown Drill was good.  Please remember to put color coded cards in window.
*  If you need any assistance with Fall Festival please email Maria or Ben.
*  Halloween Parade will be schedule for outdoors beginning at 2:30 sharp.  All classes will parade around for one lap and return to classrooms.

Articles Worth Reading:

The Biggest "Game-Changer" in Education +George Couros @gcouros

5 Things Most People Don't Know about Poverty and Student Achievement +Peter DeWitt @PeterMDeWitt

Creating a Least Restrictive Environment with Mobile Devices shared by +Erin Klein @KleinErin

How To Create Effective Homework shared by +Todd Nesloney @TechNinjaTodd

Secrets to Creating a Positive School Culture +Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal

Encouraging Risk-Taking with Teachers +Reed Gillespie @rggillespie

Training Teachers To Teach Critical Thinking  shared by +William Powers @MrPowersCMS

My Daughter's Homework is Killing ME! @karltaro

Lessons From My Sister, A Teacher Who Left Too Soon @DrJoeClark

Data Driven or Driven by Data...? +Justin Tarte @justintarte

Tips to relieve CCSS pain shared by +Craig Raehtz @CraigRaehtz

7 Shortcuts You Will Regret Taking in Life +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

One Size Does Not Fit All! Sound Familiar? (15 min)

Beautiful Oops! Love this for reminding ALL people mistakes are okay. (1 min) @SueVanRiper

The World Can Be Better! (4 min)

1 comment:

  1. MAP (NWEA) would be great if used as a screener. Unfortunately, many districts are using it to measure students, using results to track and place students and also as a measure to evaluate teachers. (Speaking personally, here.) Each interim testing consists of three testing sessions each, or nine a year. Then add all the MEAP days in. And your interim district tests. Mother of god. :)