Administrator’s Corner: Assessments help gather student data

Published 8:00 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

Administrator’s Corner by John Mahal

We have all been looking forward to spring (some would say we are still waiting on it!) so that we can move some of our learning activities outside, play on the playground without heavy coats on and just enjoy the warmth of the sun that brings out the smiles of our staff and students. What also accompanies spring in school districts is what educators call, “testing season.” Testing season has a variety of assessments for our students, depending on the grade level they are enrolled in to determine how our students have progressed or grown throughout the school year.

John Mahal

This week, elementary students in grades three through five began their reading Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA), which is followed by math MCAs and for our fifth-grade students an extra science MCA test. These tests are an annual statewide test to help evaluate student learning and skills while also measuring each students’ learning against the various benchmarks of academic achievement.  

Beginning in May, all our students kindergarten through fifth grade will participate in our FastBridge assessments that help determine student growth in reading and math. Our teachers also assess how our phonics instruction has grown this year along with each student’s guided reading level. These assessments provide our staff with the opportunity to really dig into the data to analyze individual, grade level and school-wide academic growth from the goals that we set as a building at the beginning of the year, while also evaluating if our building systems are working the way we expect them to.

Overall, these assessments help us gather data about student learning for a variety of purposes.  We know that each student demonstrates their learning in different ways and they may demonstrate this learning on different timelines based on their interests, needs or strengths.  Either way, our staff and district use each piece of data to guide our instruction, support students, and provide high quality instruction for our students that our community can be proud of!

John Mahal is principal of Hawthorne Elementary School.