K-3 assessments scheduled to increase

Jan. 24, 2014 @ 05:39 PM

The state board of education is preparing local school districts for new state-mandated assessment affecting kindergarteners through third-graders that will be implemented starting in summer 2015.

K-3 Assessment Consultant Darlene Germano visited Vance County Schools’ principals and assistant principals to provide a general overview of the K-3 formative assessment, which is not a traditional testing tool.

Unlike the end-of-grade tests and standardized reading quizzes, the new formative assessment is defined by the state Department of Public Instruction as a “process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to help students improve their achievement of intended instructional outcomes.”

Germano said the formative assessment should be embedded in daily instruction, rather than an extra task for teachers to shape and guide the student’s learning.

“This K-3 assessment is designed to be usable and aligned, not in addition to,” she said.

The formative assessments are described as a practice that involves teachers making adjustments to their instruction based on evidence and providing students with useful feedback, according to Margaret Heritage, assistant director for professional development at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA.

Heritage states the formative assessment is only effective when teachers are clear about the learning goals of a lesson, in her article, “Formative assessment: an enabler of learning.”

Her article explains students participate in the formative assessment process by offering feedback to assess their peers and supplement their own learning.

But some principals expressed concern that the younger students, especially those in third grade, are required to complete a great deal of testing already.

“When do we have time to teach?” asked Laura Rigsbee, principal at Aycock Elementary School.

She said her students take multiple reading quizzes each week as part of Accelerated Reader, which is a computer-based program that determines the child’s individual reading level, sets reading goals, provides practice and weekly quizzes.

In addition to the Accelerated Reader, students take benchmark testing three times per year with the reading assessment software called Reading 3D that is used to determine the child’s growth and weaknesses.

Vance County Schools is about to complete the second round of benchmark testing for Reading 3D, which began Jan. 6 and ends Jan. 29.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.