At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, 82 percent of Morgen Owings Elementary School’s students were working below grade level. Now, six months later, just 40 percent are working below grade level. We have work to do, but shifting our mindset regarding assessment has made a huge impact.

We all know the purpose of assessment/testing is to gather information that will lead to improved instruction and learning. And I’m quite certain we all agree–that in some form or fashion it’s absolutely essential. But deciding which measure can and should be used to gather data for each area of elementary literacy can sometimes be daunting for administrators.

With only so many hours in a day, and days in a week how do we decide which assessments we need? Do we just test students in timed intervals–once a week, a month, a quarter? Analyze student work samples? Observe students performing literacy tasks or interview students on their readings skills? Do we administer all of these methods to collect data? How do you choose the best method for measuring reading progress?

Assessment Fatigue and Frustration

At Morgen Owings Elementary School–just like in many schools and districts around the country–we too, had assessment fatigue and frustration over which was the best method for evaluating reading progress.

Past discussions about assessments had been met with resistance; our teachers were feeling the fatigue of frequent assessments and the frustration of not understanding the purpose and goal of the seemingly unending series of testing requirements. And then there were our numerous concerns about deciphering the data and the need for immediate real time data analysis.

What we now know is that when assessments are properly administered and integrated into instruction, the resulting data can provide valuable information about progress towards instructional goals, success of interventions, and overall curriculum implementation.

This all came to light after we implemented Lexia Reading Core5 and Lexia’s RAPID Assessment. This assessment was developed in partnership with the experts at the Florida Center for Reading Research, and using it in tandem with the literacy program is what changed our mindset on testing.

(Next page: Focusing on teachers; choosing the assessment path)

About the Author:

Heidi Busk  is the principal at Morgen Owings Elementary School, Lake Chelan School District 129, Chelan, WA.