July 19, 2024


Education, What Else?

Assessment Season – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ

4 min read
Assessment Season – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ

‘Tis the season to be tested, fa la la la la la la la la….

The second quarter is coming to a close and assessment season is upon us. When I was a kindergarten classroom teacher, I never really paid much attention to how many assessments other grades were responsible for. Now I am the instructional coach at our school and I am responsible for communicating all of the assessment expectations to our staff and ensuring that each teacher has the support they need during assessment season. It is definitely not the most wonderful time of the year for teachers or students.

Here is an example of the list of the assessments that our first-grade teachers need to give by December 16th:

Word Segmenting

Nonsense Words

Sight Words (150)

Timed reading fluency

SEL Universal Screening (one for students on the computer and one given on paper by the teacher)

Mid-Year SchoolCity Benchmark (ELA, Math)

Fundations unit test

Report card assessments

Most of these assessments are given one on one, by the teacher to each student. These teachers will be assessing in their classrooms for three weeks! There will be no small groups or interventions happening during this time. In the upper grades, most of the assessments are given on the computer, but it can be difficult for upper-grade teachers to trust that their students are giving their best effort or that the results of the assessment are a true picture of the standards the student has mastered.

Some of the mandated assessments give us useful data to create intervention groups and are extremely beneficial to assist teachers in meeting the needs of their students. Some of these assessments are just requirements and the classroom teacher doesn’t really use the data to impact their instruction. The district uses this data, but classroom teachers not so much.

There is so much data to sort through after all of the assessments are given. It is difficult to prioritize which piece of data is the most beneficial. Even as a coach, it can be overwhelming to decide which assessment data to dive into.

Assessment is necessary to guide instruction and measure standard progression. No one can argue that point, but the number of assessments required and the amount of time that is spent on some of these assessments can be overwhelming for teachers, admin, and students. During this festive time of year, we need to keep in mind that students and teachers alike are feeling the pressure of the season. We need to be mindful of the demands that teachers are facing every day. We need to provide support whenever possible.

A few years back, I overheard a student talking to his mom at parent pick-up. He said, “Hey mom, that’s Mrs. Kirchoff, she’s the teacher that works for me.” I thought about that. I was the teacher that worked for him. That’s what classroom teachers do. We work hard for our students. We are dedicated to their academic, social, and emotional development. We will all get through this stressful/festive time of year if we lean on each other for support. A holiday party might help too! (just sayin’)

As the second quarter comes to a close, try to reflect and remember that what you do matters and that you are doing your very best to support your students every day! Happy Holidays! Enjoy the upcoming break, you deserve it!



Sarah Kirchoff

Sarah Kirchoff is an instructional coach in Mesa Public Schools. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. She became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs.

Children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom and school.

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