Ravon: Ms. Pappas, look, I found the word calcium on my milk.
Ms. Pappas: Wow! Great job, Ravon. How do you know it says calcium?
Ravon: Because I see the letter “C” with the other words like “cat” and “car.”
At this moment, I am thinking three things:
- I am so proud of Ravon;
- How fast can I write down exactly what he said on my clipboard, so I can use this exchange as evidence of his growth in early literacy?; and
- How will I ever balance active teacher-student engagement with anecdotal note taking if the school district requires me to collect anecdotes on another 50 skills for still another assessment system?
While I appreciate the value of performance-based assessments in helping me target individual student needs, I also sometimes wonder if a drive to make assessment as comprehensive and in-depth as possible comes at the expense of quality teacher-student interaction. I am not sure if state and district policymakers realize what their mandates look like on a day-to-day basis at the school level.
In my school, we now have four types of assessment, soon to be joined by a fifth:
- The Early Learning Assessment System (ELAS) – a state mandated performance-based literacy assessment charting student growth in six areas. Reported three times per year.
- A district mandated checklist charting growth in the areas of social emotional, gross motor, and fine motor development. Recorded twice per year.
- A district mandated beginning of the year Brigance Screening used mainly to identify any developmental delays.
- Math checklists from the district mandated math curriculum charting growth in various skill areas. Recorded three times per year (recommended but not required).
Recently, the pre-k teachers in the district had a workshop on Creative Curriculum’s comprehensive performance-based assessment, which covers 50 skills and is recorded three times per year. I personally like Creative Curriculum’s assessment the most and hope the district will replace other assessments with it. All signs, however, suggest the district will make it supplemental and, therefore, probably more cumbersome than helpful, despite its potential to hone in on a wide range of student needs.
I would love to hear about teachers’ and administrators’ experiences in other states and school districts - just post a comment and we can compare and discuss.