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Sooner Is Better: When to Assess

by Anne-Evan Williams, LGL Director of Educational Development

Elementary school teachers in Vail, Colorado have got it right!  According to an article in Vail Daily, this year elementary teachers spent the first two days of school administering a one-on-one reading assessment to all of their students.  They did so in hopes not only of building an immediate and close rapport with their students but also of starting reading instruction off on the right foot.

Vail's new plan is a strong one.  By administering assessments early in the school year, teachers have a full range of data on each student they teach, allowing them to drive instruction based on students' abilities and needs.  Early assessment ensures that student needs aren't overlooked in the hubbub of the first day of school.  It reduces the possibility that a student will "fall through the cracks."

But early assessment isn't the only time for assessment.  Regular assessing, such as quarterly assessment, allows teachers to monitor student growth and change.  It also allows teachers to change plans and shift instruction, again based not on the direction of a reading curriculum, but on the individual skills and needs of their own students.

And then, of course, there are final assessments.  Used not to drive instruction, these assessments provide data to help teachers tailor their instructional strategies for the future and to show growth in students throughout the year.

Yes, Vail has started their assessment plan off on the right foot.  Now the next step will be using that data to drive classroom instruction, and assessing regularly to monitor growth and make mid-course instructional corrections.

Tags: early assessment, reading assessment, elementary reading instruction,

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