Beginning-of-year assessment data: What helps teachers most?

What assessment data is most helpful to teachers at the beginning of a new school year? How helpful is standardized test data in determining the specific needs of your brand-new students?

Veteran high school English teacher Renee Moore (left) has been pondering this question. In a recent comment at a colleague’s blog, Renee wrote: “I remember a book about standardized testing and (the assessment of) reading in which the authors showed how easily such data could be misconstrued to make very wrong assumptions about students’ abilities.”

At her own blog TeachMoore, Renee (who now teaches HS and community college students) shares some of her assessment routines at the start of the school year. Through the use of a timed personal essay, lots of teacher analysis, the potential use of other home-made assessments of grammar and usage — followed by individual conversations — she is able to gather a lot of discrete information about her students’ achievement levels and help them develop goals for the course/year.

“What could we accomplish for students if we took even a portion of the funds being bestowed on the testing industry and used that to better train and support real authentic assessments by professional classroom teachers?” wonders this Carnegie Scholar, Milken winner and former Mississippi Teacher of the Year.