In response to the 11/17/2011 post, “A Reader Writes… Assessment vs. Benchmarks – Part 1,” an old school LYSer writes:


I completely agree with your comments on November 17, 2011 about Assessments vs. Benchmarks.  While our superintendent wants benchmarks at mid-term across the district for STAAR and EOC/TAKS, we are only using the unit assessments (inclusive of CSCOPE assessment questions) to monitor our progress.  We will create a mid-term assessment (CSCOPE does not have a mid-term nor a final which we could use as pre-assessments as well as post) to monitor what has been learned and relearned as it applies to the current course.  Of course, for high schools that is a challenging proposition because in many cases so much prior material has not yet been mastered that remediation swallows up accelerated learning.  We have to find the gear for accelerated learning and get our students and faculty into it or two birds will be killed with multiple stones. 

I believe it would be valuable to have a true pre-assessment given before the school year begins and develop schedules based on what students will need to learn in the upcoming curriculum instead of blunting their educational spirit by duplicating what is known in order to glean what is not yet mastered.  If students are going to be held accountable for current course curriculum without supporting standards mastered at a high level then how will they be able to grasp sufficiently the readiness standards? 

As I run this over in my head, the same rigorous monitoring of teachers we are advocating should also include a similar model for students (and accompanying stakeholders.)  I still like to promote that each classroom is like a mini-school.  Teachers are administrators of instruction teaching students how to be instructional leaders on their own as peer tutors.  Students teaching students (proficiently) could be the most valuable assessment of all.  If you can’t teach it then you don’t know it.

I can’t wait to see you again.  I really need to pick your brain on an administrative issue.

SC Response Again, there is gold in the archives.

First, the pre-assessment for a given year is the state test taken at the end of the prior year.  Though not perfect, the results give us a significant head start in determining the instructional needs of our incoming students.  Sadly, I can count on one hand the number of schools that actually use this data for effective pre-planning at the individual classroom level for an upcoming year.  The schools that do so, do it for the very purpose you describe.  The result of this significant brainwork? Campus performance that outpaces peer campuses.  Meaning at the very least, this work provides meaningful intrinsic rewards.

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