When students who will be entering the New Bedford Global Learning Charter School this fall sat down earlier this summer to have their literary skills assessed, they were providing information that will help shape curriculum and teachers’ professional development at this new school set to open its doors in September.
The assessment plan was developed by the Assessing Student Achievement Project, or ASAP, under the direction of EDC’s Margaret Russell Ciardi. "The assessment plan we developed is one step in the process that will provide general parameters for teachers about where the kids are as readers and writers. We plan to follow up with students with increasingly more precise assessments, including providing one-on-one attention," Ciardi said.
Students entering the new charter school in New Bedford were assessed at the end of June on several literacy measures including writing, motivation, comprehension, vocabulary, and, when necessary, word level skills and strategies. The teachers will learn to interpret assessment data, develop profiles of "typical" readers and writers, and create educational plans for individual students. Teachers will use these data to design and differentiate their instruction. "We designed the assessment plan to pinpoint the students’ strengths and needs, and to be able to help teachers address those needs," Ciardi said.
The two-year ASAP project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, will develop a full compendium of field-tested tools and resources. The students entering grades 6-8 in the New Bedford charter school are among the first to pilot test the assessment plan. For other charter schools now operating in Massachusetts, EDC will be offering tools to help develop their own individualized assessment plans. Ciardi’s group plans to develop this assessment model and other resources such as an interactive Web site, forums, and on-line courses for use by not only charter schools, but all public schools around the country.
"With public demand and recent federal legislation calling for improved student performance and increased accountability, these tools can help teachers create a classroom experience that brings each and every student to high standards," said Vivian Guilfoy, director of EDC’s Center for Education, Employment, and Community which manages ASAP. "The alignment process-defining what students will achieve, assessing students in authentic and appropriate ways, and then using that information to design differentiated instructionwill help all students achieve," Guilfoy said.
ASAP project leaders are working with a national advisory group to identify additional cutting-edge resources and research. ASAP is not only collaborating with the New Bedford (MA) Global Learning Charter School, but also with the High Tech High School in San Diego, and the National Council of LaRaza, the largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, which runs 29 charter schools throughout the United States.
Originally published on July 9, 2002