District Discusses Use of Assessments to Support Student Growth

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction Beth Tsoumas shared with the Board of Education on Monday an overview of all assessments administered in the district and how these are utilized to maximize learning.
 
“Overall, our goal in District 34 is to provide a whole child curriculum that aligns with national and state standards and is supported by local curriculum defined by the values and resources of our community,” Tsoumas said.
 
The presentation was broken into three key categories:
  1. How assessments are utilized to determine what students are learning
  2. What supports or resources are provided to students who are not learning
  3. How the district responds if students already know what we are teaching
 
As Tsoumas explained, assessments are the tool to determine where students are at with their learning, and these take shape in the following ways: classroom assessments, benchmark assessments (such as MAP) and state assessments (such as PARCC). Teachers review the data to better understand how to meet the needs of all students.
 
For those who are demonstrating they are not learning, the district utilizes a system known as Multi Tired Systems of Support (MTSS), which categorizes students into different levels of need to more strategically provide support. Tsoumas further focused the conversation to more specific student populations that often require additional support and specified what that support is.
 
For those who are demonstrating they already know the content, the district relies on different enrichment opportunities such as the Gifted English Language Arts Program or Advanced/Accelerated Math Courses. This type of instruction is designed to provide a level of rigor and challenge beyond grade level.
 
“In order to meet the needs of all of our learners, teaching cannot be a one size fits all concept,” Tsoumas said. “We are fortunate to have a wealth of resources and an incredibly talented group of educators to meet our students where they are at in their learning and provide strategic support to ensure ongoing growth.”
 
Tsoumas also noted that it is important to support teachers in order to understand how to best respond to the needs of their students, and that is through the following ways: assessment literacy, informed data analysis, sharing of instructional resources, targeted professional development, and collaborative time for consultation and planning for students’ programming.