February 26, 2019
In Aiken County schools, assessment is an important component of how educators and instructional coaches design teaching and learning that is centered and unique to your child. The attached graphic was created as an information sharing tool to allow greater understanding of the scope of state and federal required assessments, as well as assessments our school system has chosen to use to identify strengths and weaknesses of your child’s base knowledge in real time, especially in areas of high importance such as reading and mathematics.
Many assessments are short—15 or 20 minutes aimed to give quick insight in order for teachers to monitor and adjust instruction to your child’s specific needs. Particularly in the early education years, some items, although labeled as an “assessment,” are simply a teacher listening to their student read aloud to better understand where they may be having difficulties.
There are two primary types of assessments—formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are designed to inform teachers of student skill and content knowledge throughout the course of an academic year. These assessments inform teachers of student support needed with fundamental skills such as reading and math, or with content knowledge of a course. These assessments inform teachers, allowing them to adjust their content delivery and/or utilize curriculum supports in order to meet the individual needs of their students. In contrast, summative assessments test the summary of skill-mastery and/or knowledge at the end of a course or year, or at a designated midpoint. While valuable to systemic curriculum development (and required by the state and federal Departments of Education), summative assessments do not provide real-time data to aid your child’s classroom teacher in planning lessons and targeted interventions to ensure that your child is on track to meet literacy, numeracy and content knowledge expectations for his or her grade level.
A guidepost for any assessment used in our schools is that we use the information yielded by that assessment to inform the continuous improvement of student learning and teacher instruction. The goal of assessing student skill-mastery and understanding of content is ultimately to support each student along a trajectory to graduate ready for college and a career.
While this information graphic provides a brief description of all assessments administered throughout a student’s kindergarten through twelfth grade years, more comprehensive descriptions of the assessments are available on our website, https://www.acpsd.net/OAA, along with parent and student resources aimed to reduce any testing anxiety and answer questions about the testing format and purpose. In addition, prior to any major assessment, a letter is sent home to students’ parents to inform them of the testing dates, outline the purpose, provide information about the unique assessment and describe how the results will be utilized. A letter will also accompany the results of major assessments to help parents better understand and interpret the data.
We are proud of the special gifts, talents, and abilities your child has and are grateful for the impact those gifts have on the learning environment in our school district and community. In Aiken County Public Schools, we recognize parents as the primary partner in your child’s education. Should you have any questions or concerns about assessments, please contact me and I will be happy to either discuss testing with you on the phone or meet with you in person to answer questions and/or help you better understand any assessment or interpret the results.
Director, Accountability & Assessment