A LYS Principal asks the following questions. I will embed my answers after each question for easier reading.


I love the daily e-mails addressing improving schools (The LYS Nation Blog) and love The Fundamental 5 (Cain & Laird) and The Foundation Trinity (Cain).  As you know I have moved to a new district and I have a couple of questions about the 3-week Checkpoints we are implementing on my new campus this year.

1.  My teachers are having a difficult time “creating” their mini-assessments (Checkpoints) for each 3-week period.  We admit that we are not test writers.  We have lots of resources but finding stems with answer choices over the TEKS taught to that point has caused difficulties for us.  This is especially true in the area of Reading. 

SC: This is the most difficult part of the assessment process.  The easiest way to tackle this is to:

A. Map the curriculum in 3-week increments, identifying the critical TEKS that must be taught in the 3-week window. The YAG provides too broad of a brushstroke.

B. Identify questions that assess the identified TEKS.  STAAR release tests, district benchmark tests, TEKS Resource System unit tests (if you saved them), and test banks are the place to start.  A teacher actually writing checkpoint questions is the last resort. 

C. With reading assessments, identifying good reading passages is the first step.  Look for passages that can be used for numerous questions on a given assessments and used on multiple assessments.  Remember, with a hot read (a passage a student has seen before) you can ask more questions and more difficult questions in a given testing time.

2.  What are your suggestions for review of the mini-assessments while maintaining the pace of the YAGs (Year At A Glance pacing guide)?

SC: Do not review for an assessment.  To do so means that the Checkpoints are actually assessing the quality of the review, not the quality of first instruction.  Do not review after the assessment.  Instead re-teach the deepest holes over the course of the next 3-weeks.   

3.  Do you recommend DMAC (a data analysis tool) for data analysis for each mini-assessment (Checkpoint)?  If not, what should we use?

SC: No. In-depth data analysis of 3-week assessment data is a waste of time. The data sample is inherently unstable.  Instead, do a quick 1-page trend analysis, adjust, and move forward (LYS has a process it trains campuses to use).  Save the heavy data analysis for the Fall Finals and EOC / Spring Finals.

4.  What do you recommend for transparency of student/teacher data and do you have recommendations on how to keep it meaningful but not losing the valuable instructional time.

SC: There should be team transparency of assessment data.  However this should be implemented in a purposeful and methodical manner.  Doing it too early, when the data is overwhelmingly invalid destroys trust.

5. Thank you for you input.  I realize these are loaded questions.

SC: Yes, I realize these were loaded questions.  I do suggest that you schedule a LYS Coach to come to your campus and meet with your leadership team and lead teachers and walk them thru the process.  The LYS Coach will let your team know where they are on the right track, what corrections need to be made, and if the adversity you are dealing with is normal or unique.

I hope to hear from you soon.

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