Saturday, May 16, 2015

End of Year Assessment: A Closer Look

The end of the year is fast approaching.  I always find these last days to be a roller coaster of emotion as we celebrate all that has been accomplished while experiencing those sad moments where we realize this community will never be together again just like this.  All the conversations that have supported us, all the work that has defined us, all the times we've held each other up, are memories we will cherish.  Each year our experiences teach us new ways to learn, to work, and to support one another.

Additionally, the end of the year is busy with closing out rituals.  There is reflecting on the learning from the year as we look at artifacts from September to now and marvel over how we've changed.  We take time to make plans to continue to connect and learn during the summer months.  For teachers, there are end of year inventories, progress reports, and assessments.  Of course, there's the putting away --- all of the putting away.  We work hard to keep our to-dos from taking over and keeping us from getting the most of our last days with our students.

Looking Back - Looking Forward
In the last two weeks, I've been completing end of year literacy assessments in small pockets of time.  It would be easy to race through assessments to get them checked off my list.  The purpose of these assessments is often to measure growth of students across a year.  We look for numbers and letters to place in boxes to show what has been accomplished.  Our team has been talking about the way end of year assessments are more than that for us; we are finding end of year assessments help us to see patterns across our classroom of the learning students have experienced.  Sometimes those patterns are cause for celebration, and sometimes they speak to changes we want to make in the coming year.

While we are spending time reflecting with the students who sit in front of us this year, we are learning about adjustments we can make to improve our instruction next year.  As I complete the assessments for my students I am taking time to notice more than the numbers and letters I am placing in boxes.  I'm asking myself these questions:

Considering Changes
Looking through assessments I am taking the time to notice the areas I feel my students were stronger in as they read, and those I want to think about changing in the coming school year.  My focus remains on what I can learn in moving forward.  

As I look back I find the biggest commonality among students who discontinued was a connection to reading.  Though not measured in assessments in concrete ways, each of these students were students who managed to connect the reading we did together into their personal reading.  These were students I was able to find ways to bridge our conversations about reading beyond the time we spent together.  Each of these readers made some kind of connection whether it was with other readers, with books, with authors or, as was often the case, with a series of books.  These readers connected with reading beyond the required time we met, beyond the time their teachers spent with them, beyond the reading they were asked to do.  These readers began to read because they chose to read.  This will be important to think about over the summer as I look for ways to better build bridges between readers and reading in the coming year.  

As we bring closure to this year of learning, finding time to use what we've learned to look forward into the new year allows us to continue to grow in the work we do for children.  


  1. This is exactly where I am, too, Cathy - thanks for prompting and nudging me to ask the right questions as I look ahead.

  2. Looking for these patterns of success and patterns of struggle feed my teaching more than anything. When learning behaviors appear across students (or anytime) there is no denying I need to pay attention, I need to consider my teaching and I need to adjust with the students learning style in mind. While I do look of these patterns throughout the year, they seem so much more apparent now….I wish I could know in September what I know NOW!
    Thanks Cathy for helping us reflect on our teaching and the effects it has on the learning of the precious young minds before us.