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Instruction and Progress Monitoring
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade receive instruction based upon the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) utilizing a variety of research-based strategies and models. Among the different types of strategies implemented is Differentiated Instruction (DI). This practice makes allowances for differences in students’ learning styles, level of prior knowledge, and areas of comfort or interests.
Student performance is analyzed and closely monitored for improvement using balanced assessments throughout the year to ensure that individual needs are being met. When measuring student achievement, balances of both formative (Headsprout, DIBELS Progress Monitoring, and GRASP) and summative assessments (end of unit tests, district benchmarks and state assessments such as the Georgia Milestones or G-Kids) are essential in gathering information. In order to understand how balanced assessment will help students prepare for state standardized tests, it is important to understand the rationale behind each form of assessment.
Formative assessments are used to monitor learning progress during instruction and to provide continuous feedback. It is essential to know that formative assessments are not tests that are used to assign grades. They are ongoing evaluations that provide specific feedback to educators. As a result of the feedback, educators understand how to adjust instruction to maximize learning and inform students of what they need to do next to improve their learning. Among the types of formative assessment that are conducted within the classroom are teacher/student conferences, observations, classroom discussions, learning logs, projects and inventories.
Summative assessments are used at the end of a unit, grading period or year’s end to determine the extent of student achievement and competence, to provide a basis for assigning grades and to provide data from which reports are prepared. More specifically, the purpose of summative assessment is to determine whether students have learned some specific content in the curriculum. These types of assessments are found at the classroom, district/state levels, and can be graded for use in accountability systems.