Heard in the Herd

Heard in the Herd
Posted on 09/05/2017
 Heard in the Herd: Our Partnership Discourse!
How We Assess Your Child at MSES--and Why?
It has long been our core ethic here to assess students only as much as (and no more than) necessary to support their learning. Assessment is an tool to support student learning, but its direct application in teaching and learning is by far the more important part of the cycle! Toward that end, we carefully use four kinds of assessment--Summative, Benchmarking, Progress Monitoring, Formative--to support your child:
•    Summative Assessments, like the state’s PARCC and CMAS tests, are administered each Spring to help track school effectiveness on standards-focused assessments. They do also provide us one measure of the effectiveness of our school’s overall math or language arts programs. While we heed these assessments at MSES, we are careful to define our students’ learning by a fuller body of multiple measures, and so we neither define our school by this assessment alone nor teach directly to it alone.
•    Benchmark assessments are administered to all students two times a year, beginning and mid-year, to track growth over the course of the year. The initial, preassessment, cycle helps us see which students are ahead of grade level, which are humming along at grade level, and which are below and need support. We then differentiate instruction for each student based on the data. The mid-year benchmark is used to see if our differentiation is effective or if any adjustments must be made.
•    Progress Monitoring assessments are follow-up checks we use every several weeks with intervention students to establish whether the interventions we’re giving them are working.
•    Formative assessments are the most useful to teachers because they involve frequent check-ins that tell us how your child is doing day by day and what support they need in the next lesson cycle. These assessments include teacher observations and check-ins; small daily quizzes; chapter and unit tests from our curricula; and assessments from independent outside formative assessment programs.
•    At MSES, we do balance our curricular and teacher-created assessments with “outside looks”  -- broader, often nationally normed, commercial assessments that give us an independent perspective. These include the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment we use with all readers in Grades K-3 -- and now a new assessment for language arts and math in Grades 3-5 called Empower. An untimed test, Empower will serve as a benchmarking and progress monitoring assessment that replaces the former STAR tests. The advantage of Empower is that it tracks student progress toward success on an end game that is arguably more important than PARCC results: Empower tracks future success on the SAT assessment used in high school to measure college/career readiness! We will be sharing the results of your child’s beginning of the year and mid-year Empower assessments as we collect them.
•    Please remember that, as we administer the assessments we need to support your child, that MSES administers no more assessments than we must for good academic data or state law. We encourage you to support your child in working hard on all the assessments we use to ensure their growth and success.
Talk to Us, Please!
This week’s anonymous survey topic is your view of our use of assessments at MSES. Please take a few moments to respond! Your feedback will help us make MSES better and better! Here’s the link:


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