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Rethinking Classroom Assessment

By Krista Promnitz, former Special Education School Improvement Specialist

I walked into my Coordinator’s office to plan my professional development and she asked me, “What do you think you need to learn more about ?” Despite the simplicity of the question, a quick answer was not at the ready. After some thought, I said I would like to know more about how classroom teachers use assessments. I have a background in standardized assessments, but the day-to-day assessment practices of a typical teacher were outside my experience. ...

Our Bright Spot this month comes from two schools with very diverse student populations.  Math teachers from Croton-Harmon High School and K-12 teachers from the Rising Ground school for students struggling with emotional and learning challenges were among those who attended a two-day training on Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) with RSE-TASC Regional Trainer Ann Narcisse this fall.

What were students able to achieve?


* Successfully solved complex mathematics problems that had previously proved challenging

* Increased time on task and frequency of responses

* Showed higher levels of enthusiasm and persistence

* Actively engaged in teaching content to each other

* Increased and extended written responses

* Increased class participation and appropriate classroom behaviors

* Increased both quantity and quality of contributions to classroom discussions

What practices or systems made this possible?

Teachers at both settings reported that these outcomes resulted directly from their implementation of EDI strategies.  These included:

◊ Using a greater variety of processing activities including Paired Verbal Fluency, Elbow Partners and Pair-Share

◊ Consciously building in frequent “opportunities to respond” through use of non-volunteers, white boards and whole class responding through Read With Me and Choral Responding

◊ Building in think-time through use of I-Time and wait time

◊ Frequently Checking For Understanding (CFU)

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

The evidence-based practices built into the EDI framework are effective for all students, K to 12, with and without learning challenges.  Also, developing and implementing consistent evidence-based instructional practices school-wide powerfully impacts student outcomes. As one high school math teacher described the impact of the training this way: “Most math teachers at the high school took this workshop and now we have a common language and practice!”


More on Formative Assessment – December 2018

More than one RSE-TASC specialist has focused on what research and best practices have to say about classroom formative assessments.  In addition to Krista Promnitz' article "Rethinking Classroom Assessment" (reprinted in the December 2018 RSE-TASC Reporter), in the February 2013…

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