All of the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in my building have completed their Smarter Balanced Assessment for this year. All 236 students took ELA and math assessments (5th graders took the science MSP, too!) that gave us – that is, their teachers, parents and themselves – one indication of progress towards grade level benchmarks.
While I firmly believe no child should be measured or evaluated by a single test score, SBA scores do give famlies and teachers important information about next steps of instruction for students.
In my building, teachers want their students to do well on this test. In fact, I’ve never heard of a school that doesn’t want their students to do well on this test, or any other test for that matter. Success on the SBA, or any assessment, is a result of quality instruction of the Common Core State Standards. But I argue it’s more than that. In my building, students have
been successful with the Smarter Balanced Assessment because the staff is creating an exciting and supportive testing environment.
Students feel encouraged to do their best. Students know they are going to be given goals and instruction appropriate for them based on assessment results. Students are safe to perform at their level without consequences. Students report enjoying assessments because they feel celebrated.
You see, the way we present testing to students matters. By establishing strong relationships with students and building a positive learning environment, students can be empowered to show their growth.
Building relationships with students allows them to feel safe and takes place all year long. However, we do a few special things around the SBA window that make a difference in successful scores.
This year, we had a Superhero Day to kick off the testing window. Another local school had a giant pep assembly.
Pictures and videos of both show excitement from students and staff alike. My incredible colleagues left special notes for students on the butcher paper they used to cover their walls. Staff gave students clever and cute treats that excited kids. We put the emphasis on hard work, a growth mindset, and perseverance.
This, along with clear objectives and effective instruction all year long, has allowed our students to demonstrate great success on the SBA!
What strategies do you use to help students succeed on both formative and summative assessments?
I grew up here in Western Washington, wanting to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. As the oldest child in my family, I had plenty of opportunities to "practice" teaching my younger siblings. I enjoyed this. They may not have. :) When I'm not working, I enjoy outdoor activities with my husband and our two Australian Shepherds (whom are far too spoiled for their own good!). I also love spending time with my family, being an auntie (to the cutest kids ever to grace this planet!), hosting dinner parties for friends, crafting, taking photographs and shopping.