As an educator, could you ever imagine requesting one of your students who wears prescription glasses to remove them during guided reading instruction? A more absurd scenario might be requiring a student who uses a wheelchair for mobility to attend second-floor classes in a building with no elevator. These are examples of visible disabilities that are easy to recognize, and it is straightforward to address the student's needs. However, there are many hidden disabilities of equal magnitude that hinder student learning and are often undiagnosed. To have an invisible disability means that there is more to the student’s educational struggle than meets the eye.
Formative assessment is a teaching tool that supports all learners, but it is especially critical for students who are struggling, as it holds the potential for changing the learning outcome. It is a quick way for teachers to evaluate learning needs and academic progress in their classroom. Here are some examples of how formative assessment can support special education goals.
Indiana’s graduation pathways empower students to focus their efforts in high school on a range of careers while acknowledging that there are multiple ways to demonstrate postsecondary readiness. Overall, this initiative promises to bring significant benefits to students, families, schools, and communities. However, counselors and administrators may be left wondering how they will track every student’s pathway considering there are so many options. That’s why the Pivot team has developed an intuitive solution with several time-saving benefits.
Over the last several months, Indiana legislators and policymakers wisely amended the requirements for high school graduation to better reflect the varied and valid pathways that students pursue as adults. Rather than mandating that all students pass the same high-stakes standardized assessments to earn a diploma, students are now free to demonstrate their postsecondary readiness in ways that better reflect their interests and goals.
While some people believe that teachers spend their summers lounging on the beach all day, the truth is that great educators are using much of their time away from school to revise their curriculum for the upcoming year. June and July are when educators attend conferences, plan new learning activities for their students, and reflect on ways they can improve their practice. In other words, summer isn’t just a break.
This is true for administrators, too.
What do you think of when you hear the word data? Do you envision numbers rapidly scrolling on a computer screen like in The Matrix? Or of spreadsheets with endless rows and columns filled with figures and formulas? Even worse, maybe the word is anxiety-inducing because you’ve heard the phrases data-driven instruction and data-driven decision-making a few too many times.
What do you think of when you hear the word warehouse? Do you imagine forklifts carrying pallets of cardboard boxes across dusty concrete floors? Or a place where things go to be stored, perhaps indefinitely?
Despite some of these connotations, a data warehouse designed for educators is a platform for exploring questions tied to improving teaching and learning. A data warehouse built for teachers should bring together multiple sources of student information so that strengths and areas for improvement become clear. Any single source of information is likely insufficient to draw conclusions. But by storing, sorting, and synthesizing summative, diagnostic, and formative assessment results, a data warehouse can help educators identify problems and solutions more effectively and efficiently.
The idea that we should accelerate students' math curriculum to ensure they can complete Calculus before graduation was a trend in the early 2000's that we now are able to see the results from. Requiring students to take Algebra I in middle school has proven problematic because there are many students being accelerated without the required foundational skills for future math success.
While these students may be able to earn a passing grade and pass the state test for Algebra I, the lack of foundational skills and many standards which are left unmastered eventually catch up with students as they pursue higher math courses. With our shift to college- and career-readiness standards, we must rethink how we are determining placement into accelerated math classes for middle school students and how we are designing the middle school curriculum to ensure students do not have gaps in their learning.
Do you ever make decisions based on “gut feeling”? Can you tell within minutes of meeting someone whether you like them or you don’t? Are you a teacher who can tell within the first week which of your students will graduate first in class, last in class, or not at all?
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink,, talks about the decisions we make every day, in an instant – in the blink of an eye. In the book, he talks about processing information quickly with the ability to “thin-slice” or filter multiple factors to come to a conclusion. He goes on to point out that there are some people who are very good at this, but there are more that think they have great intuition and, in fact, they are very, very wrong.
For a number of years, we have heard that our nation has a dropout crisis. The ESSA requires that every state's Title I plan must "include how they will support districts in meeting needs of students in middle grades to improve effective transitions to middle and high school to reduce risk of dropping out."