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Guest Thinkers

Backlash against progress monitoring

The benefits of ongoing progress monitoring of students on essential academic

skills (i.e., “power standards“) are well established. But, as Sherman Dorn


, some school districts are starting to see a backlash from students and

parents against too much testing, even when it’s formative assessment designed

to increase student mastery of critical content.

Here is the comment I

left on Sherman’s blog post:

I think one of the problems is that many school systems just throw a bunch of

formative assessments up on the wall, hoping some of them will stick regarding

their curriculum standards and/or year-end assessments. For example, I just

spoke with a principal whose elementary school was doing SIX different reading

assessments with its kids. When pressed to explain WHY each assessment was used

(i.e., what information each assessment gave teachers that the other ones

didn’t), he was unable to articulate how the assessments were similar /

different from each other. If schools wish to avoid student and parent backlash

against too much testing, they need to have an aligned assessment strategy that

clearly outlines when and why each assessment is being used. If schools can’t do

this, they deserve all the backlash they get.

Does your school organization have an aligned assessment system? Can it

clearly articulate when, why, and for which students each formative assessment

is being used as well as how that assessment overlaps (or doesn’t) with other



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