K-3 assessment recommendations given to Atkinson
With the goal of improving early elementary education, a team of education experts Wednesday presented State Superintendent June Atkinson with their vision for better assessing young students by making learning more tailored to individuals.
“This is a process that leverages the best of what teachers do on a daily basis,” said John Pruette, director of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Early Learning.
Pruette along with Kenneth Dodge, director of the Center for Child and Family Policy, and Duke public policy professor William McDougall co-chaired the group of 22 teachers and other education experts to figure out ways for teachers to measure student performance before third grade when formal, statewide assessments begin.
The think tank proposed a formative assessment process that engages teachers and students along with parents, families, school support staff, early childhood programs and health care providers.
The process is intended to be ongoing for the instructional and learning process for both teachers and students and will use ideas from all the people involved to create individualized plans for students.
The student-specific plan will cover approaches to learning, cognitive development, emotional-social development, health and physical development, and language development and communication.
“Kindergarten through third grade represents a major hope for placing each and every student on a positive trajectory,” Pruette said. “It’s a cutting-edge plan of individual instruction.”
The next step is to design and pilot a program based on the think tank’s findings, followed by statewide implementation. A tentative timeline has the initial kindergarten assessments beginning in half the school districts across the state by fall 2014. The goal for statewide implementation is the 2015-16 school year.
The teacher training needed for the implementation of this plan will be determined as the program is designed. The team developed the plan from more than 2,500 teacher surveys from across the state, and then sought additional suggestions from experts.
The state’s General Assembly appropriated $18 million for the development of kindergarten and early grades formative assessments.
“Teachers are eager in our state to do what’s best for our students,” Atkinson said. “They need and will have the best tools for them to see what their students are learning, what they’re not learning and what they’re ready for.
“It is important for our kindergarten teachers to know what their students have mastered and where they need help,” she continued.
The full report and executive summary are available online at www.ncpublicschools.org.