This month, I have begun assessing all students using the AIMSweb benchmark reading and math assessments. It is similar to having your temperature taken at the doctor. It is a quick check to assess where students are in regards to the benchmark, ensuring student progress.
What is the difference between a ‘test’ and an ‘assessment’?
Typically, tests are done at the end of a unit, at the end of a semester or at the end of a year. Yearly and bi-yearly tests are done to ensure that all students around the country are learning the same information at the same rate. Assessments, on the other hand, can be done at any time. Teachers do assessments after a lesson, after they teach a specific skill or at the same time tests are done.
More about the assessments at St. Mary School:
1st – 6th Grade*
The test involves three passages which the student reads for one minute. This pinpoints an oral reading fluency rate (using the middle score). It isn’t that we want students to read as fast as they can, but they need to read at a rate that shows they aren’t working too hard to decode each word. The assessment includes a comprehension check, referred to as the MAZE. This assessment asks students to read a passage. In the passage, there are a number of opportunities for the student to find and circle the correctly used word (of three given words) as they come to them in the story. Every time the student circles the correct answer, it shows us that they understand the story and are paying attention to what they have read.
*Students also do a math comprehension assessment and Grades 2-6 do an additional math concepts and applications assessment. These are eight minute math assessments covering skills currently being taught along with overall grade level skill assessment.
Kindergarten – 1st Grade
Kindergarteners and 1st Graders take a variety of early literacy and early math assessments. I am looking for fluency in letter naming, letter sounds, phoneme segmentation (telling the sounds in a word) and nonsense words (blending sounds together) as well as oral counting, number identification, quantity discrimination (which one is more) and missing number identification (telling which number comes before or after another).
With the combination of assessments, the gathered information allows us to get accurate and timely data on our students’ progress and needs. As a staff, we also look at classroom tests, standardized tests, and student performance to determine how to best help each child continue to learn and progress.