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When EOY assessments feel like just checking a box

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Time has just flown by. Congratulations teachers! You’re almost done with the school year!

A big part of closing out a school year is the administering of end-of-year assessments. Sometimes these assessments can feel like just another thing on your (massive) to-do list even though the assessment data can be helpful. So, what to do with all the information the assessments provide? Especially at this time of year, energy is low and everyone (teachers, families, and students) are all looking towards summer. In short, use end-of-year results as a way to equip families to work with their children in a meaningful way during the summer.

You may be thinking, I want less on my plate. But stay with me–this advice is like the advice you get from your doctor to exercise to address the fact that you’re feeling tired. Just like moving more can help give you more energy, the investment of energy to do something with the assessment data can give you the energy to finish the school year strong.

1. Share formative assessment results.

Share with families the formative assessments you’ve given and ask them one subject they’d like information about. While some families may want information from more than one subject, just asking for one subject allows families a chance to focus. They have a lot on their plates and they also want to help their children. Giving them an option to do just one thing demonstrates that you both see how busy they are and recognize their desire to help their children.

2. Share a headline that interprets the data.

We are in a profession where there will always be something more that can be done. Avoid overwhelming families by narrowing your focus: pick just one thing the data is telling you and distill that into a family-and child-friendly headline.

For example, yesterday I was working with a 2nd grade teacher. We were reviewing some assessment data (reading fluency scores) for a group of her second graders. Zooming in on one student, we noticed:

  • She read with 91% accuracy (she read words mostly correctly).

  • She had low fluency (she read very slowly).

  • She missed many high frequency words.

  • Her performance was inconsistent–high and low over the time her progress had been monitored.

  • She performed lower on assessments after she’d been absent for a few days.

Our headline (and brief why) for the student and her father was:

  • The assessment results showed me that increasing your automaticity (your ability to automatically know how to say a word) will help you more successfully read 2nd grade texts. When you read more fluently you won’t have to concentrate so hard on figuring out words, and you can focus your attention on what the words mean.

3. Teach the family how to help their child with one thing.

It’s one thing to share information with the child and their family. It’s another to make sure they understand and feel equipped to work with you as an instructional partner. So, after getting clear on the headline, think through how you are going to set a parent or family member up for success in supporting their student.

  • Think about easy ways to for families to practice the skills.

    • To prepare for a conversation with the student's dad, the 2nd grade teacher and I thought about easy and accessible resources. We landed on poetry as one way for the dad to help his daughter increase her reading fluency. We copied a poem from You Read to Me, I'll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman and kept in mind that it wouldn't be enough to give the poem to the dad, but to explain and practice how to use it.

I wasn't there when the teacher met with the dad, but she shared that she asked the dad if he'd like to practice what he could do at home with his daughter. He agreed, and in less than a minute they read through a page. (Keep practice short and sweet!) By practicing and explaining what he could expect when reading with his second grader, the teacher increased his confidence and excitement about helping his child.

  • Describe how the family's work will help their child.

    • The teacher shared with the father the words that his daughter would be learning through their practice. She also connected those words in the poems to words on the most recent assessment that his daughter had not yet learned.

  • Ask them to share any ideas for ways you can help in class. A family's insights are invaluable. Their expertise about their child, about different subject areas, community resources, etc., combined with your professional knowledge can catalyze your instruction.

I hope these tips help you end your school year well. As well as equip and encourage families to partner with with.

We would love to help with any end of year and summer planning work! Let's connect today!

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