When students arrive at the grade level more than a half year behind in skill, concept, and knowledge, those students are going to have a hard time keeping up with the pace and content expected for the next grade. Of course some will make the growth, but others will struggle simply because it's too much to teach in too little time.
Some would say that it's okay for students to simply take the assessment and then receive a low score because they didn't have time to learn all that material, but I worry about what that does to a child's sense of self esteem. Plus we have standardized tests to show where students are at. Hence, I think the unit tests should be based on what students can realistically learn in the amount of time available given the skill, concept, and knowledge they bring to the classroom.
To do this well means that the program is personalized more so that the progression of skill, concept, and knowledge is just right for the learners. This is difficult to get exactly right, but I think we can do better.
In the meantime though, I need to zero in on the factors that I can support, factors that include the following:
- Student practice and homework
- Student focus, attention, and participation during class
- Opportunities for extra help and support
- Engaging learning experiences that result in good skill, concept, and knowledge development
For some, the reason for this assessment challenge is the fact that they do need to attend better, complete homework, ask more questions, and practice more. For others it means we have to better personalize the teaching/learning program to give them greater support. Onward.