Given the time of year that it is, and the many other things that are going on, there are a number of different challenges that teachers will face as they try and administer the assessment. I wanted to discuss some of the most salient challenges to help teachers overcome them over the next couple of weeks.
The following is a breakdown of the perceived challenges and how they can be mitigated:
1. Student Attendance - because of the time of year that it is, attendance can be a problem for many students. This is why the assessment was designed to be completed within an administration window. This will give teachers the ability to have all students complete the assessment within the allotted time.
2. Planning - in my mind it would make sense to administer the test when the most students are in class. I would do this so most of the students have completed the task early on, and the remaining time in the administration window can be used to have the absent students get it done. This can be a challenge in terms of planning. I say this because the students who missed the original administration need time do discuss and plan with an adult prior to writing. They also need some supervision when completing the test. In an ideal situation, the teacher would make arrangements with a colleague (another teacher or EA) and collaboratively plan on how to ensure that all students complete the task. This may even involve pullout, or completing the assessment during recesses or lunch time.
3. Flexibility and Segmenting - given the nature of the assessment, and the fact that students are permitted discussion and planning time with teachers, it may be good to segment the assessment. That may even give teachers and students the time to complete all the tasks in an already busy time of year. That means that the discussion, planning, and writing segments separate from one another... and even on different days if needed. That is perfectly acceptable, and may even be necessary given the way class schedules are currently set up.
4. Getting Absent Students Caught Up - ideally, teachers would want each student to benefit from discussion and planning (which will probably happen once during the first administration of the assessment). This will obviously help them produce their best writing. However, if timing and support is an issue for those who were absent, teachers can simply have the students do the best they can with the assessment without those additional supports. I realize that may disadvantage certain students who have been absent, but the important thing is that each student is given the opportunity to do their best work and show us where they are at with their writing abilitites.
Don't be aftraid, however, to be creative in having students complete the task. For those students who missed the first time it was done in class, they could do it during regular class time. This would allow teachers to work with and discuss the assessment while the rest of the class was working on another task. Remember, this is not a secured government exam, so be creative in ensuring that all students get a chance to do it and receive the best support you can give them.
I hope this addresses some of the questions and concerns that surround the administration of this district writing assessment. Please do not hesitate to conctact me should anyone have additional questions or concerns.
Have a great two weeks, and don't forget to have all students samples to your principals by Friday May 30th.