Assessment in its different forms - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Assessment in its different forms

Posted on April 24, 2011

by Dr. Edna Hussey on April 24, 2011

All of sudden, it feels like summer has taken hold! The children seem to be enjoying the brilliantly warm weather every chance they're outdoors. This coming Thursday, make sure you've applied sunscreen on your child, and if you purchased a Coolibar shirt, send your child to school wearing it as we are celebrating MPI's annual Kite Day. The entire school community, from preschool to high school, will be on the football field for over an hour where every student will try their skills at flying their own hand-made kites. Students are crafting their kites in school and learning a few basic tips on aerodynamics from their teachers and from each other. I'll write more about this fun event in next week's blog and include photos.

Students in grades four and five will be taking the Stanford Achievement Test 10, the latest edition of the test, this week. The S.A.T. is one of the most commonly used standardized achievement tests in many school districts across the U.S. It is a norm-referenced test, meaning our students' performance is compared to the performance of a group (usually in the Midwest) of students who are about the same age and grade level as our students taking test. Students will be taking a multiple-choice battery in reading (vocabulary and comprehension), mathematics (problem-solving and procedures), and language (mechanics and expression).

All students have been preparing for the test by completing test-prep materials and discussing test-taking strategies. The typical fourth or fifth grader scores well beyond the 50th percentile or demonstrates above average performance. We always remind parents that the test results, which are usually sent to us in the summer, provide a snapshot of their child's learning performance and should be considered together with a classroom performance as documented in the portfolios of learning and teacher observations.

These assessments help us find out what our students know and are able to do and provide information about curricular areas that may need more instructional attention. The assessment experts at S.A.T. advise that we consider other kinds of information as we analyze test results, such as curriculum emphases, relative to what is being measured by the test; students' motivation to do their best on the test; familiarity with test-taking strategies; and the conditions under which the test is administered.

There's another kind of assessment going on in the classrooms. This authentic writing assessment -- that which comes from within the classroom -- is a piece of writing students complete in response to a prompt (a topic) having gone through the typical writing process in the classroom, though without peer or teacher feedback. The students will write to the same prompt given in the Fall semester so that teachers can determine each student's writing development. We have undergone a training process (and review the process each year) whereby final pieces are read and scored according to a writing rubric adapted from Vicki Spandel's writing traits. You'll find your child's writing piece among others completed during the semester in the progress portfolio so that you have good understanding of your child's abilities as a writer.

Our heartiest and deepest appreciation to all families who contributed items for the bake sale to support the Japan relief efforts. You helped to raise over $2600! I hope you read the letter from the bake sale committee which was posted to the parent intranet. They are planning one more opportunity to raise more money at the May Day performance in two weeks.

Finally, I hope you and your families celebrated Easter in a special way. I spent a good deal of time with my own family, complete with an Easter egg hunt for the grandchildren and lots of home cooking. Lunch over the next few days? Egg salad sandwiches, of course!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey