Posted on September 18, 2016
Over the course of the past five years, our faculty and administration have dedicated countless hours to exploring and implementing effective assessment research practices designed to improve instruction and mastery of learning. Many believe that assessment is a term exclusively used to mean standardized tests and student achievement. The truth is, assessment is an integral component of instruction designed to communicate whether or not the standards or goals of learning are being met. Unlike standardized testing, the teacher can use the student feedback to gauge their depth of knowledge and understanding and make necessary adjustments to delivering instruction.
Across our middle school classrooms, teachers use assessment feedback to affect decisions about how or when grades are assigned, how to address the instructional needs of students, and when to move forward or go deeper with a lesson. As a bonus, the feedback from the assessment is being used as a tool for our middle school teachers to ask these meaningful questions about their practice: "Are we teaching what we think we are teaching?" "Are our students achieving the expected outcomes?" "Is there a way to deliver the content more effectively, thereby promoting deeper understanding?" This framework has developed a more comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of our students within the middle school as well as taking a more introspective look at our professional practices.
Now more than ever, it's important for our students to have a mastery of their core subjects: math, reading, and writing. Of equal importance are the skills that will allow those core content subjects to have relevance in a world that demands a more complexed set of skills. This means, in addition to learning the fundaments, our students must be able to problem-solve, think critically, analyze and apply new and disparate information. Assessment provides the framework for making learning meaningful and relevant in the lives of our students.