While districts are preparing for the end-of-year state assessments in the coming weeks, district leaders are also preparing district budgets and assessment calendars for next year. With the sensitivity to the constraints of time and money, it is critical district leaders step back during this fast-paced time to reflect on their current locally assessment system.
Through the flurry of meetings, piles of paperwork, and rapid-fire dings of email notifications, it can be easy to default to the “get ‘er done” mentality and rubber-stamp decisions with going by what was done the previous year. Yet, it’s critical, now more than ever, for leaders to step back and reflect on the current practices in their own locally-administered assessments.
For most districts, there has been subtle changes in the assessments being purchased to align to new standards. What starts out as a “pilot” for a particular grade level or group of students, suddenly widens with the search for the silver bullet to satisfy formative feedback and monitoring as well as compliance-related in Third Grade Reading Guarantee, student growth measures, or gifted identification. If we are honest, we are able to look back and see that while dialogue was held to add new assessments, little discussion was held on the impact from the big picture or elimination of other tests. At the end, we keep adding to the already-over-flowing plate.
Realizing this dilemma, Achieve created a free Student Assessment Inventory for districts to download and adapt at the following website: Student Assessment Inventory. Districts leaders can use the inventory to audit their current locally-administered assessments, and use it as a framework to guide discussion in planning for next year. The inventory follows four main stages: (1) Reflect and Plan; (2) Conduct the Inventory; (3) Analyze the Inventory; and (4) Make Recommendations. It is important that teams are formed with representation from teachers, principals, and central office leadership to conduct the inventory in plans for next year. Student and parent focus groups can also be employed during the Reflect and Plan stage.
Through the rapid changes experienced in the past few years, we always smile at the notion of time to reflect on what’s happened. While the ability to pause and reflect provides time to process and celebrate initiatives and stories of the past, they also provide a context in the ability to end the theory of insanity that plagues us at times…