Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Perspective on assessment

What if one moment defined who you were?

I stuck my tongue to the metal ice tray when I was six. 

I tried to throw a golf ball over my house when I was nine and threw it right through the front window instead. 

I drove down a dirt road in Iowa right after a rainstorm even though my girlfriend, who is now my wife, said, “I don’t think you should do that.” I am glad that farmer came along to help pull us out. 

I tried to fix our kitchen faucet on New Year’s Eve and we were without running water for two full days.

Then there was the time that I was trying to put up paneling in the bathroom. It evidently never occurred to me that I might need to be careful. Shortly after I started my project I was running to find the water shut off because I had put a nail right through one of the water pipes.

If anyone used those moments to define me, I would probably not be sitting where I am right now. Taking one moment to define anyone is not very wise. I have had many moments in my life that I wish I could do over. I am certainly glad that my life was not defined by those moments.

MEAP test scores were released by the state yesterday. I hope that the students in my district don't think that those scores define who they are and who they can become. Regardless of the score, the results give us perspective, they do not give us definition, of these young people. 

All of us have taken a test and received a score that we hope does not define us. In our district I hope that we take the long view. I want our teachers to know and understand the curriculum. Then I want our teachers to use the best instructional strategies they know to teach our students. We assess our students to identify strengths and weaknesses and then we create a plan to address the weaknesses and strengthen the strengths.

Our test scores give us a snapshot of where our students are at one point in time. Our teachers and administrators have the responsibility to take those scores, interpret them, and then to create a plan that will help every student make progress every year. The goal is to ensure that every student is prepared upon graduation to be successful. 

One test score does not define who we are. It is a tool that we can use to help us get better. 

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