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April 3, 2013

SCHELLENBERG: Teaching, learning and testing in Greater Clark

(Continued)

Regardless of the level of development, the information derived from the assessments informs the classroom teachers and school administrators of the next steps they must take when developing academic plans. Assessments must be a natural part of the teaching and learning model. Good assessments provide valuable data to inform the next steps for instruction. Continually monitoring student progress toward proficiency is just good practice. 

School professionals are accountable to the public. The state assessment series, primarily ISTEP+, is used to determine school accountability assignments. The ISTEP+ assessment is administered in two sections. The first section is taken in early March. It requires students to respond in writing to open-ended questions. The second part of the assessment is taken in late April and is typically a computerized, multiple-choice test. 

Two additional pieces of information are very important regarding the teaching-learning model. When any change occurs in curriculum, instruction or assessment, it requires the other stages to change as well. For instance, when changes are made to the ISTEP+ test at the state level, changes must be made to the local curriculum, which then requires instructional changes at the classroom level, and additional assessment changes at the classroom, school and corporation level. 

Secondly, and of critical importance, when assessments are completed and results are returned, educators must be ready to answer the following question — “What will we do if our students did not learn what they were supposed to learn from our instruction?” 

At Greater Clark, we have recently implemented an IMPACT program. This program is designed to provide tiered intervention to students who have fallen behind grade level academically or who have exhibited behavioral issues that have interfered with academic progress. 

We are providing additional time and instructional support for students to catch up in language arts and mathematics. Additionally, we have designed interventions to ensure students are matched with key staff members to guide them behaviorally and help get them back on track academically. We want to provide the necessary support for all of our students to succeed.

The professional community in Greater Clark County Schools strives for continual improvement. We have a system in place to constantly review our progress and adjust our programming to make sure we respond to the needs of our students. We will not rest until we reach 100 percent proficiency.

 

— Amy Schellenberg is executive director for Educational Services and she can be reached at aschellenberg@gcs.k12.in.us

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