I started this post in June. Spring is my favorite time of year. The vibrant green leaves and beautiful, fragrant apple blossoms in my back yard represent renewed growth. Ice out was not until June in northern Saskatchewan this year. In the picture above, the leaves had just sprung forth. I can still smell that new growth. I can’t help but relate this picture of new growth to my working world of assessment.
Assessment, from a growth perspective makes success a driving force in the lives of every student. RPS staff administered the spring Value Added Assessments in May and June. A hugely positive aspect of these assessment is being able to show growth. I know that with good instructional practice, every student I teach can grow.
Achievement focuses on where the student is relative to curriculum outcome expectations. Eventually a grade is provided. While assessment experts agree that this is something that will not go away soon, they also advise us to ensure we examine and report on growth of students. Why growth? It focuses on student success. A reading benchmark is one of the best ways that I know to show growth. This involves hearing a child read and paying attention to what they do to understand what they read. As they read new texts at their appropriate levels (yes the reader needs to read the text) and more deeply learn and practice strategies to help them examine, analyze and question what they read, we see growth.
Fall is not my favorite time of year. As the days get shorter, I know that winter and cold weather will soon be upon us. However, the educator part of me loves the fall. We get a whole new bunch of students whom we can grow as readers, writers, mathematicians and responsible citizens. Current technology allows us to see their past growth quickly and this helps us to plan for continued growth.
No educator I know would argue with the idea that their job is to help students learn and grow. One challenge though is to help educators see the importance of sound assessment practices in helping students to learn and grow. If you are wanting to sharpen up your assessment practice I would like to recommend you consider this Saskatoon conference.
I have attended sessions with 3 of the 4 presenters and have never been disappointed. To top it off, it is right in Saskatoon….just out our back door. For me, good relevant professional learning has been a key to success and continued professional growth.