In response to the post on starting common assessments, a reader writes:

“Here is how our district got started on the common assessment piece this year. First, our assistant superintendent of curriculum went to the TASSP conference and heard Sean Cain speak.

Second, he heard the results and believed that common assessments are critical to measuring instructional data and trends that will drive critical immediate adjustments to instruction to improve overall TAKS results.

Finally, the vision was born and he returned to our district and gave a very clear district wide directive: Every teacher in the core areas will give assessments every three weeks and measure their data within their departments. Then, our assistant superintendent in his infinite wisdom, had every teacher reveal their weak objectives and struggling students and they had to present a plan on how they were going to address that weak objective or struggling population, ASAP.

It is simple, but Sean is right. It takes work on the part of the AP’s, data must be crunched and analyzed properly, and teachers are not willing to air out their past failures. When our district achieves this, look out! We are going to be recognized this year at the very least.

LYS readers, Sean knows what he is talking about. It is simple, but takes fortitude to follow through with.”

SC Response
Like many best practices, the use of short-term common assessments is deceptively simple.

1. Students take a test over what all the teachers taught.

2. We look at the results to determine what the students learned and what they did not.

3. We determine if a particular practice is effective or not effective.

4. We adopt the effective practice(s)

5. We re-teach what the students did not learn as we continue to teach new material.

6. Teachers sing “kum-bye-yah”, administrators beam, and all students pass the state assessment test.

The reality is that the initial stages of implementation are difficult. There is little trust that the data will be used appropriately; no one wants to admit that there are areas in which they are not proficient; the tests are marginal; the test results are poor; the pace of instruction is uncomfortably fast; and change becomes a constant. No one is happy. But push through it, within 2 to 4 test cycles, things will get better. And by the end of the first year, teachers can’t imagine how they survived without the immediate feedback and support.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…