Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Trend for In-School Assessments

One of the interesting and positive results (there are many negative results, though!) of how the ICCSD has responded to No Child Left Behind is a more concentrated focus on student learning for all of our students. Many of our teachers in targeted schools have regular meetings with a group of their fellow teachers and other staff in order to find the best way to reach all their students, to identify specific skills that will be measured among the many that are being taught, and to bounce ideas off of the colleagues. This practice has allowed teachers to quickly see results of their efforts, to determine whether students with barriers to education are, in fact, learning, and to make adjustments on the fly. These all seems to be a very good, and show that good outcomes can come from bad policies.

As I reflected on this fact for these schools, I was struck by the sense that this broad-based individualized approach to assessment at these schools seems to make standardized assessments superfluous at these schools. If the teachers are measuring each student individually on a regular basis, and they are using that information to more effectively teach students; then it seems that standardized assessments that are summative, that take a long time to get results, that have little impact on what actually takes place in the classroom (except for that week of testing) are doing very little that isn't already occurring in a much more useful format in the approach used in targeted schools in the ICCSD.

This good outcome is a testament to the quality of our teachers, and also to administrators who are willing to protect our schools from the excesses of certain state and federal policies so that we can better reach all of our students. They'd brought about a good outcome from a bad policy, and it's important for us to continue supporting those practices that move us closer to the goal of making all of our students life-long learners.

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