Administrator’s Corner: Assessments provide progress snapshot

Published 8:00 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

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Administrator’s Corner by Julie Eaton

Assessments are a way to gather information used for making educational decisions. Teachers and administrators in Albert Lea use a variety of assessment types to guide instruction and support students. One particular assessment type is our statewide assessments that provide school districts and the public with information about equitable opportunities for all students to engage with high quality content in school.

Julie Eaton

In late February and early March, our English Learner (EL) students completed the English language proficiency accountability assessments, known as the ACCESS assessments. Students who receive special education services and met the participation criteria took the Alternate ACCESS. We use these scores to determine if a student is ready to exit an English language program. Testing went smoothly again this year. Teachers worked hard to create schedules that minimally impacted student instructional time. 

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Now teachers and administrators are preparing for the upcoming administration of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). These are standards-based accountability assessments taken by most of our students in grades three through eleven. Students who receive special education services and meet the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) eligibility requirements may take the MTAS. The MCA and MTAS are available in mathematics, reading and science. These tests are designed to provide the state, districts and schools with a snapshot of student progress towards meeting the Minnesota K-12 academic standards. We strive to ensure testing impacts student’s instructional time as minimally as possible.

This year as we continued to work through many issues that arose due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, we kept our focus on social-emotional learning and prioritized relationship building. Test results will continue to vary when compared to pre-pandemic data. We, and leaders in our state, are aware of the concerns about the impact of the pandemic on learning, and know that these are simply snapshots of student learning of the grade-level content standards or proficiency in academic English at the time students test.

As assessment season is upon us, please reference the assessment page within our district’s website for information or contact your building principal.

Julie Eaton is the teaching and learning coordinator and district assessment coordinator for Albert Lea Area Schools.