#SOL It’s Friday and Benchmarking is Nearly Over

It’s Friday, the week’s end and the third day of March. I was reading over student writing yesterday as I prepare for our grade level “data day,” a day where we look at all the Winter benchmarks and discuss student progress and goals.

While our district writing assessment (DWA) isn’t embraced by everyone, I consider it an opportunity to see how my students have grown as writers. It’s different than our other writing. They only have an hour. They are given a topic rather than having a choice. An article is provided for background information (something we hope they will weave into their response) to support their opinion. All students from 2nd through 8th complete the DWA with the same prompt and a leveled version of an article with similar information.

What made me smile was how so many students embraced our work on “hooking” their readers, how they organized their thoughts and included an opening and closing. Many included text evidence by quoting the article, others wove it in in their own words to support their opinion. They had voice and transitions weren’t formulaic for the most part. Yes, there were still a few that didn’t include much second-order support and one student didn’t take a position. Overall, they did a great job and have grown as writers and thinkers.

I’ll confer with each student and set new goals. They will see their scores, based on our writing rubric, for this assessment. We will celebrate what they’ve accomplished and also note areas where they can improve. They’ve already asked when we’d meet. I’d like to meet now while it’s fresh, but I need to complete final scoring with my team and a consultant so they need to wait, something I don’t have to make them do on other writing.

Aside from the DWA, we use Fountas & Pinnell (F&Ps) to determine their fluency and comprehension, and MAP data for reading and math. I like having the MAP data right away. F&Ps don’t always provide me with new data since I confer often with students. I think it makes sense for some of my “tangled” students, but those reading at V, W, X and Y in fifth grade already have a good command of these skills. Oh, we still have the PARCC in April, however I won’t see those scores and my students will not know how they performed until next Fall.

We are two-thirds of the way through the year. There is still work to do, although we are finished with DWAs and other benchmark assessments. We will will continue to read and write in many genres, sharing our ideas with others. We can move back to more authentic work.

Now onto report cards for me as the trimester is ending.



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