Learning is a continuous process that starts long before children begin school and continues for a lifetime. Assessments are tools used to see what a student knows in an effort to inform planning for the next learning experience, as well as to report individual learning.
Assessments come in a variety of forms: from classroom tests and quizzes to college entrance exams. They can also include informal questioning prior to or following direct instruction. Some assessments turn into a grade for a student, but many more are designed to course-correct instruction.
Traditionally, schools focus a majority of their time and energy on achievement tests. Virginia’s SOL (Standards of Learning) tests are a measure of achievement; in this case, a prescribed minimum proficiency based on common grade level and course standards. Generally, classroom tests and quizzes are achievement measures. These tests can be formative (ongoing assessments aimed at guiding instruction over a period of time) or summative (typically a cumulative assessment intended to measure the level of proficiency at the conclusion of a prescribed period of time) in nature.
We believe achievement tests alone provide an incomplete picture of student learning, so our team developed our Balanced Assessment Project in May 2013. This work has become the foundation for our efforts to strike a thoughtful, student-focused balance, one that prioritizes individual student growth over traditional achievement measures, while fully supporting state standards and embracing accountability.
In the coming months we will feature an assessment profile for each grade level (PK-12) designed to communicate year-by-year testing snapshots for GCPS students. These resources will reinforce our efforts to balance assessment, hold individual progress as the highest priority in student learning, and support Goochland County Public Schools’ strategic plan.