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Practical Steps You Can Take this Fall to Prevent Further Slide

While there are many unknowns for next school year, one thing is certain: there’s great importance in screening all of your students this upcoming fall regardless of where and how instruction is provided.

Universal screening in schools is similar to taking your child to the doctor for regular well-child visits. Physicians know the typical growth that infants and children should be making as they grow, and well-child visits give parents and their care providers an opportunity to address any differences observed between a child’s actual and expected height, weight, and other health variables.

In the same way, teachers can use school-based screening data to compare a child’s academic and behavior data with school-based expectations for learning. Such screening is even more important now because learning has been disrupted for most students. In addition, the combination of flat growth or decline from spring 2020 disruption along with the typical summer loss means that the best starting place for fall instruction might not be where you had started instruction in the past.

Universal screening data will help teachers know what instruction students need as the school year begins.

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Use Spring Data Now to Disrupt the COVID Slide

This spring, learning has shifted primarily in three ways.

Some schools have completely closed and teachers are no longer working with students, while others have adapted to a model in which attendance is optional and work is ungraded. And a few schools are still operating on a familiar schedule where attendance is expected and work is graded.

In any case, formative assessment is as important as ever. When teachers can’t be in the same room as the students, having access to key data to determine student needs is really essential.

But how does this happen in a virtual learning environment?

You may discover that screening data is really valuable at identifying students whose learning has plateaued so that you can act now to prevent any further slide.

In this post, we’ll offer some thoughts on how you can use spring screening data to identify students who may need additional support, and then discuss strategies to engage students whose learning appears to have plateaued.

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Guidance for Educators Supporting Students with IEPs During COVID-19

This article was originally posted on the Illuminate Education blog on April 16th, 2020.

Best practices are constantly evolving for special education teachers. However, in December 2019, nobody could have predicted what April 2020 would look like. Districts and educators had to flip their standard practices overnight to accommodate the current state of the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did it bring significant challenges to students in general education, but it also brought many questions around how to ensure students with IEPs have equal access to education—not to mention the additional services these students receive.

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Now and Later: Using Formative and Summative Assessments to Keep Track of Students’ Learning Needs

Educators often ask me the right way to assess student learning and growth.  Unfortunately, as with most complex questions, the correct answer is, “it depends.”  The answer depends on the question you have about student learning. A different assessment may be needed if you want to determine who is at risk of reading failure than if you want to learn how many students met standards at the end of the last school year. While there are a variety of assessments used in schools, most of these fall into one of two categories: (a) summative and (b) formative.

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10 Persistent Progress Monitoring Myths Debunked

Progress monitoring is a widespread practice in K12 schools across the country and for good reason! By collecting frequent data about a student’s progress toward a specific learning goal, teachers can keep tabs on how well an intervention is working and make changes as needed. However, despite the widespread acceptance and general use of progress monitoring several myths about the practice still persist.

Below, with accurate information that will hopefully encourage even the biggest skeptic to view progress monitoring in a new light, I’ve debunked the 10 most common myths I hear about progress monitoring.

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8 Common Questions About Norms and Benchmarks

Earlier today, I was driving 60 miles an hour. Was that too fast? Too slow? That depends on the speed limit, but without having something to compare my speed to, it’s impossible to evaluate it.

The same concept applies to student test scores — without a basis of comparison, we can’t evaluate the score.

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Norms: What Are They and Why do They Matter?

By: John Bielinski, Ph.D.

The central purpose of a score on any classroom assessment is to convey information about the performance of the student. Parents, educators and students want to know whether the score represents strong performance or is cause for concern. To valuate a score, we need a frame of reference. For example, it is not enough to say Ian earned a score of 64. We need to know how that score compares to expectations. While there are many ways to define expectations, our instinct is to use what we know about the student’s peer group’s performance. The teacher, who knows the performance of the entire class, might recognize that a score of 64 is above average.

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