Three assessment periods are required. This aligns with the new trimester report cards, but it doesn't align with reality:
- There is no entry assessment - the first assessment period is around Thanksgiving - so teachers will need to do their own entry testing.
- (This means that the district will not have any good data about how children started the year and their growth from the entry baseline. Given the disparity in preschool availability, this strikes me as either intentional leveling or just a wasted opportunity. The district should collect entry data and disseminate it - if we really believe in equity, we should be fighting for equitable starting conditions.)
- Parent Teacher Conferences have been moved into November (from October), aligning with the first report card/assessment period. However, the assessment is really going need to be done well before those conferences and the 19 November data deadline if teachers intend to have report cards ready to discuss at conferences. Presumably teachers will do the assessment early, but three weeks makes a difference in Kindergarten - the 19 November data isn't going to be an accurate picture of the Thanksgiving break student.
Beyond these issues:
- The word list includes non-high frequency words that I will now have to teach. These are words the students would read correctly in a text (using picture and context), but a word list has no context. So this is a case of needing to teach to the test to give students a fair shot.
- The testing requires thrice testing higher-level phonemic awareness skills (blending and segmenting). Testing these in November strikes me as a waste of time - I haven't taught the skill formally, so it's basically an entry assessment, and the skill is hard.
- The reporting form is a true Scantron and unlike the Brigance cannot encode actual information (for instance, you report how many letters a kid knows, but not which ones). So this is an additional layer of work.
- The district repeatedly indicated that there would be an entry assessment. I know a few teachers who have done limited assessment so they wouldn't duplicate district requirements. There is no entry assessment.
- I know how to give these assessments, but not every school has been using Fountas and Pinnell. I sure hope the district is planning training - and aligning with Treasures. Among other things, Treasures teachers way fewer words (and different ones) than are on the word list.
None of these are HUGE issues, but they collectively betray a troublesome lack of planning. The remove between district decisions and their impact on classrooms is too big, and the sense of urgency at the district level is nil. Monday is the twentieth day of school and information is just getting to sites about the testing. That's a problem.