Are We Focusing Way Too Much On Assessments?

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Assessment systems, including classroom and large-scale assessment, are organized around the primary purpose of improving student learning (Fairtest , 2007) Principles and Indicators for Student Assessment Systems.)  Our schools in Dekalb County believe that assessments are designed to measure student growth and learning goals. We use Milestones Testing, Mapp Testing, benchmark testing and classroom assessments to measure student growth. In my 1st grade classroom, we use Mapp Testing three times a year. We review scores as a grade level. My classroom assessments also include projects and games.

Assessment is also used for other purposes that support student learning. School improvement plans are measured through assessment. Our school scores help to determine how are students are learning and what areas need improvement. Teachers, schools and education systems make important decisions, such as high school graduation based on information gathered over time, not a single assessment (Fairtest, 2007) Principles and Indicators for Student Assessment Systems.)

Our assessment systems are not always fair for students that are behind grade level, ELL (English Language Learners) and students with learning disabilities. All students in our county are expected to master grade level assessments. Dekalb County has diverse students with various language and cultural backgrounds, learning disabilities and dysfunctional backgrounds. I don’t feel that we are using multiple measures to appropriately assess students with these challenges.

Teachers and administrators should be knowledgeable on high quality assessment. At our school, teachers use state assessments and unit tests from manuals to determine student success in their classrooms. Educators need to know assessment purposes and methods. We are not trained on assessing diverse populations, ELL and students with learning disabilities.  I feel that we need professional development and resources to successfully assess all students.

Schools that attend schools in middle and high socio-economic areas have parents and community’s that are more eager to learn about assessment purposes and methods. Our school has open meetings explaining assessment scores and methods for parents. Teachers do not regularly meet and discuss assessment practices for our students.  We do meet for SST (School support teams) meetings to discuss individual concerns of students. I believe that are county can improve on ways that we can include more parents and community partners in lower socio-economic areas.

In conclusion, assessments throughout our county can improve and adapt to our students needs. I believe that assessments should be reviewed and improved based on school population and school improvement plans.

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