Posts by Jim Smith




Returning to School: The “summer slide” and re-igniting a school-based culture of learning

A deeply held and widely shared belief in education is the “summer slide.” For nine months, teachers and students work tirelessly to build student achievement only to have it unravel over the summer. Upon returning to school, teacher conversations are laced with laments of the learning lost. This blog post is not an argument concerning the reality of the summer slide; rather, I am pondering why the idea of a summer slide makes me so uncomfortable. Read more


Diving Into Common Assessment—Does it Work?

Assessment is a messy process. Developing, using and responding to assessment supporting learning requires reflection, trusting relationships and, at times, re-learning and re-assessing. When assessment is simply seen as a test, resulting in points scored and grades assigning, the fundamental learning opportunities of effective assessment practices are lost; and what a tragedy this is. Read more


Diving Into Common Assessment

Are you ready to take the plunge? Is the water too cold or too warm?  Do you take a tentative step with the big toe or throw caution to the wind and commit to an adventurous leap – uncertain of the outcome? Either works, depending on your style, whether in swimming, living, or building common assessments. Read more


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Listening to Student Voices: Reflective Assessment Conversations Build Student Investment in Learning

When educators think about state accountability testing, it is rarely in connected with the process of fostering reflective learners – but maybe it should be. If a student develops meaningful relationships in a learning community while being guided by the use of formative assessment feedback, then the state assessment becomes a simple exercise in “showing what you know.” As educators “build” a learning path with quality assessment, “pave” the path by providing students with the tools to reflect on their learning, and “illuminate” it by the “light” of understanding student expectations for future success – and then push them beyond those expectations (Hattie, 2009), the state test become simply a small part of a balanced assessment system. Read more