Mohonasen school leaders are working with their colleagues around to region to update testing and assessment practices. The goal, they say, is to ensure all testing done in district classrooms is done in a way that will improve teaching and student learning.
The district is part of a 12-district consortium participating in a Teaching is the Core (TiTC) grant program, led by Capital Region BOCES. The $399,946 grant from the New York State Education Department aims to review and improve classroom assessments, such as pre-assessments that gauge what a student knows before instruction occurs and post-assessments that show what that student knows after a unit or semester.
An assessment review team from Mohonasen, consisting of classroom teachers and administrators, has been participating in ongoing training and professional development with the 11 other consortium districts (Cohoes, Guilderland, Niskayuna, North Colonie, Schalmont, Schoharie, Scotia-Glenville, Shenendehowa, South Colonie, Voorheesville and Watervliet). The training is led by Learner-Centered Initiatives (LCI), an international education consulting firm, and supported by data-driven instruction coaches from Capital Region BOCES.
The team has received training in assessment design that examines alignment with learning standards, difficulty and consistency – both within grade levels and from grade to grade. By exploring different techniques and best practices, the team hopes to establish a process that can be replicated in the future.
Team members have gained knowledge about what makes an effective assessment and have examined existing assessments and testing practices. Through this process, they have identified assessments to maintain, eliminate, modify or create.
“Teachers and administrators are currently developing classroom assessments that truly fit into the instructional process – instead of a more traditional approach where teaching stops and a test is given,” said Mohonasen Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Lisa Cutting. “We feel this more authentic type of assessment can sometimes fit more naturally into the instructional cycle and will provide students with more opportunities to show what they know.”
This process has not included state exams, such as the math and English exams taken by students in grades 3-8 or the Regents exams.