In a recent EdWeek survey, 41% of district leaders said their most urgent need is “assessing students learning loss from last fall.” To get students back on track and minimize further educational slide, understanding “learning gaps” (our preferred term) is critical. And to understand those gaps, educators need data. Without annual, state summative assessments, teachers will need a different way to quickly and efficiently identify what students know and don’t know when the next school year begins. They will also need guidance on how to address the learning gaps and to help students catch up.
Two key areas of focus should be:
- Selecting the right assessments. Assessment selection is more important than ever. Schools and districts should use a variety of high-quality, curriculum-aligned assessments – interim, formative, and diagnostic along with their summative data (if available) – to inform instructional decision-making. Misalignment between curriculum and assessment can send teachers the wrong signals, which in turn may lead to the wrong interventions. With an aligned system in place, educators can make informed decisions based on data that are accurate and reflect what was taught. The assessments should also be easy to deliver, provide immediate results, and have score reports for teachers and parents that are clear and useful.
- Understanding the data. Data are only useful if they are understandable and actionable. Educators need to understand how to make sense of those data to inform instruction, e.g., to determine student placement, drive lesson planning, create personalized intervention plans, and ensure students are on track to meeting learning goals. Even with excellent assessment and curricula, instructional delivery can fall short without proper training on how to evaluate data to get at underlying gaps in understanding. We call this “assessment and data literacy,” and it’s key to making good use of data.
High-quality assessment tools provide actionable, accurate, and reliable information about students’ understanding of key concepts and skills. With this information in hand, educators can pinpoint learning gaps and plan instruction accordingly to get students back on track.
CenterPoint can help schools and districts get on the road to alignment with classroom assessment tools and targeted professional learning focused on assessment and data literacy for educators and leaders. Find out more at centerpointeducation.org or email email@example.com.