Every fall, educators expect some level of learning loss as students return to school from summer break. But this school year we’re dealing with more than the typical summer slide. How have nearly six months out of the classroom and…
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.
Assessments are woven into the fabric of schools. The first assessment occurs each morning when teachers take attendance and record who is present and absent (or late). Throughout the day, educators complete numerous formative assessments, surveying the class on who was able to solve a math problem correctly on their whiteboards, walking around the room to assess who is using correct grammar in a writing assignment, and evaluating comprehension to a class story. Teachers also complete summative assessments through weekly unit quizzes, regular book reports, and quarterly report card grades.
Within the school setting, teachers regularly assess social-emotional and behavioral (SEB) concerns as well. These include office discipline referrals for breaking school rules, formal evaluations related to attention or task persistence concerns, and nominations for counseling due to peer relationship problems. Teachers are implicitly and explicitly evaluating students’ progress in learning and SEB functioning throughout the school day.
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many new challenges and opportunities for students and teachers. As schools across the U.S. work through how they will provide distance-based remote instruction for students, we know based on our conversations with educators in different districts and states, and from recent data pulled from the Education Commission of the States, that many different approaches and methods are being used. These range from districts telling teachers not to teach anything (i.e., no instruction) to video-conference-based lessons on a par with what students would be experiencing in the classroom.
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.
For example, many educators and school leaders have been concerned about losing access to the school mental health professionals, special educators, mentors, and other adults who provide the academic, social-emotional behavior supports students need to be successful in school.
As schools across the U.S. work to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 by implementing virtual instruction and assessments, Illuminate Education has compiled resources to help educators use their current tools for their students’ needs.
In light of the many interruptions that students have experienced due to the COVID-19 virus, schools will have to decide whether to continue with planned assessments. The U.S. Department of Education has created an expedited review process for states to request waivers from annual assessments required in relation to certain federal funding sources. This means that certain assessments will not be required for this school year. This will allow states and schools to make decisions about which other assessments will be useful for instructional planning. Educators are reminded to check with their state departments of education to learn the latest state-level requirements and guidelines.