Effectively using the data that we gain from our assessments is always important, and perhaps never more so than right now. There is a reason that accurate interpretation is a tenet in the Solution Tree Assessment Center model, and it is certainly worth taking the time to explore. There are a few definitions of the word “interpret”; some focus on more artistic endeavors, while many others focus on the idea of explaining something. As educators, we must interpret things each and every day—from whether we will be able to accomplish everything in our lesson plan to whether our students are really understanding what we want them to know. We should strive to draw informed inferences in our work, recognizing that doing this requires professional knowledge, skill, and ongoing effort. Read more
Back to the Basics
Educators across the country are sharing how this school year was far more difficult than the previous two years during the pandemic. There have been many pivots (I know, I know . . . that is like a four-letter word), many shifts, and many concerns raised as students return to school and socialize with peers they have not seen for a long time. This was a year like no other. As it comes to an end, educators have an opportunity to take a breath and reflect on what worked well and areas in which to seek growth. There is also an opportunity to think about going back to the basics with assessment practices. The pace of the year had many teachers juggling way too many responsibilities; summer brings time to reflect and opportunities for collaboration. This time allows teams to dig into the skills and knowledge students struggled with the most and design formative and summative assessment practices that align with the standards. Read more
Winning After a Loss
Educators have been inundated with news articles and media posts focused on the amount of “learning loss” that students have experienced since the requirement to close on-campus learning in March of 2020. While some schools were able to fully return to onsite instruction for the ‘20-’21 school year, others were required to remain fully virtual and many offered hybrid approaches to learning. Even those who were able to return to a face-to-face environment experienced times of entire school or class quarantines, emergency returns to virtual learning, and staff shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With those challenges came the necessity for educators to learn to teach their subject areas across many platforms while also taking on the task of investigating new technologies and addressing safety concerns for themselves, their families and their students. Are there gaps in student learning? Absolutely. But certainly not for a lack of blood, sweat, and millions of tears by every educator in our field. Read more
Assessing When No One is Around…
Many readers of this blog will be familiar with the age-old philosophical question that raises a variety of responses regarding what we see and what we perceive:
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Read more
This Time is Our Opportunity
There is an English proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention,” that fits in education today as teachers are forced to become digitally innovative in the face of immediate, and possibly an extended, period of need during the COVID-19 lockdown. These are indeed challenging times.
But what if it’s an opportunity too? If I could wave my magic wand and offer a little peace of mind to teachers today, I’d offer this support: Read more
#Winning: Anticipating Errors as Preventative Instruction
I was recently working with a team to develop common formative assessments, and they were having some difficulty generating appropriate questions and tasks for the standards being addressed in this particular unit of study.
We talked through the standards, as well as the learning targets, and brainstormed assessments methods to match the various elements of learning required for students to master the concept. Still, we were in a pause.
So, I decided to change course.
Instead of further belaboring the learning targets and what student proficiency would need to look like, I engaged the team to consider what was preventing student learning in the first place. Read more