Monday, August 04, 2014

What Student Assessments and Surveys Do You Use at the Start of the Year?

Getting to know our students well at the start of the year is integral to a student's success. The information we collect from previous teachers, family members, assessments, and students themselves help us to know our students well. This information also helps us to target specific, meaningful learning goals, and begin to chart the progress towards those goals with strength.

If teachers collaborate around the kinds of information they collect and the structures for hosting and sharing that information, the conversations about students' growth and development are strengthened. On the other hand, if all the educators are charting growth with different categories, questions, and charts, then when it comes time to discuss student learning, the conversation takes more time as educators try to adjust their various information charts to the collective conversation.

While multiple arenas exist for data collection and review, it's important that the information we bring to the teaching/learning table is concise and easy to apply. With that in mind, I created this survey sheet to use at the start of the year for every child. The information categories pertain specifically to my teaching context and students. I can imagine that this sheet might undergo some change as colleagues and I discuss the process before school starts.

In addition, much of this information, will be added (or already exists) on easy to manipulate online spreadsheets. Yet, the paper copy will be helpful as parents, colleagues, students, and I meet to discuss goal setting, progress, and programs in the year ahead.

What kind of survey sheet or data collection system and process do you use at the start of the year to get to know your students? Do you set aside time to meet with previous teachers, family members, students, and colleagues to collect and review data and also set goals?  How do you use this information as the year progresses to help students create and meet their own goals, and to revise and target the teaching learning program.

There are many pieces to the jigsaw puzzle we call school, and some of the most integral pieces are those we fit together at the start of the year to know our students well, target the learning, and engage us in creating and carrying out the learning program with confidence and care.