Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.
April showers may bring May flowers, but springtime also brings our annual state testing for third through eighth and tenth grade students.
Each of our students in these grades is assessed on his or her Reading and Mathematics skills. Additionally, our fifth, eighth and tenth grader students are tested in Science. End of year “summative assessments” provide the district valuable information about how well our students’ have mastered grade-level standards and helps to identify the learning needs of each student. The information we gather also guides our efforts to improve the curriculum and instruction offered by the district.
Aside from the summative assessments that are the focus of spring testing, it is daily classroom “formative assessments” that hold the most promise in improving the learning of each of our students. Gathering necessary information each day does not require a test, but rather the expert observation of student work and regular discussion with students about their learning and understanding. Through the informal, daily collection of information regarding our student’s mastery of essential skills, teachers are able to answer the four fundamental questions that guide their planning, teaching, and learning
- What do students need to know, understand, and be able to do?
- What instructional strategies and/or activities should be used to meet the standards?
- How do we measure and assess whether students have attained the knowledge/skill?
- What do we do when students don’t learn and/or they already have the knowledge/skill?
Through answering these questions, teachers can then provide learning opportunities that meet the unique learning needs of each student in their classroom. The answers to these questions are used to adjust instruction to maximize opportunities for increased achievement. This information also provides opportunity to identify any deficits of knowledge or skills shared by the class which need to be addressed by whole-class instruction. Effective instruction is nearly impossible without constant collection of information about student learning and immediate feedback to students. Constant monitoring of student learning leads to appropriate adjustments in the instructional support provided by informed and expert teachers.
In the Longview Public Schools, our focus continues to be upon improving the achievement levels of our students. To this end, we value the role that both daily formative assessments and end-of-year summative assessments play in providing the information we need about our students and their learning.