Today I would like to introduce four strategies or “strategic strands” of work guiding our efforts to improve student achievement and help assure success for all. These strategic strands form a blueprint for improving results in the Hazelwood School District. The four strategic strands of work are:
1. Professional Learning Communities
2. Assessment Literacy
4. Race and Equity
I will focus on our efforts in the area of assessment literacy.
Rick Stiggins, founder of the Assessment Training Institute, defines assessment literacy as, “increasing the teachers’ knowledge and understanding of assessments to improve student learning.” HSD began implementing assessment literacy strategies in January 2011. Since that time, about 250 staff members attended voluntary meetings to learn more about the use of assessment literacy in our classrooms.
So what does this mean and how might it look in practice for our students? In Mrs. Kimberly Burroughs-Neeley’s fourth grade classroom at Keeven Elementary School, students are learning to become better readers and writers using assessment literacy strategies. At the beginning of a lesson, Mrs. Burroughs-Neeley asks students about helpful techniques to remember when answering a question about a story. The students respond:
“Include the question in your answer, answer every part of the question, break the question apart by underlining different parts and use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling.”
By doing this, Mrs. Burroughs-Neeley helps students gain a clear understanding of what a quality answer looks like. Mrs. Burroughs-Neely uses the student responses to create a rubric or guide that the students can then use to assess their own work.
Mrs. Burroughs-Neeley uses her Promethean Board to project the following: “Luther has been saving his allowance for almost a year. He has earned money by mowing lawns and washing cars. He bought the helmet and lock already. He has practiced
his hand signals and he even took a class on street safety from the local police.”
She then asks the students what Luther is going to buy, and to provide three supporting details. The students call out various answers and use their rubric to assess their answers. Using the rubric to guide her questions, Mrs. Burroughs-Neeley asks, “How can you change your answer so it is a little clearer? Does your answer have correct punctuation?”
At the end of the lesson, the students use a self-assessment to understand how to improve in the future. They respond to the following prompts, “I am good at these! I am pretty good at these, but need to do a little review. I need to keep learning these.”
This is only one of many examples of assessment literacy strategies happening across our District. We plan to continue sharing other examples in the coming months to give you a better picture of what we are doing to improve student achievement. Thanks for your continued support.