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It takes a village…and a whole lotta data!

January 16, 2008

In the last two days we have reviewed two possible tools for us to gather meaningful data on student learning. One product, Pearson Benchmarks, is an assessment development tool. This product allows our teachers to quickly develop appropriate assessments (tests) for students. The software is built with the State of Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations embedded – so we are assessing the “right” learning. With the help of Steve Laatsch, the Heritage School Principal, we are piloting the benchmark system at the 5th and 6th grade level this spring.

Today we met with John Flora, a representative from NWEA – the Northwest Evaluation Association. NWEA is currently working several schools in Washtenaw County, as well as thousands of districts across the country to provide norm-referenced assessments. If we purchased this product we would be able to assess year to year growth of each student through a norm referenced test which could be given in the fall and spring each year. Unlike the MEAP, which for example assesses our 3rd grade students one year and then a new set of 3rd grade students the next year. We naturally compare the two – and while we do look at the trends, comparing one set of students to a different set doesn’t give us the authentic growth (or lack of growth) information we needed to make effective instructional decisions.

The bottom line, we need data….. lots of it….. from multiple sources at different grade levels and across subject areas. Ms. Betty Rosen-Leacher and Dr. Sean Enright are working in this area most days. As a district, we are looking to commit resources to get systems in place to make sure we get what we need to know where we are at and how to increase student achievement.

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