‘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:
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!