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What Measuring Student Growth and Marriage Have in Common

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You know how people say that marriage is hard work? … Well, I think that measuring student growth might be even harder.

If you’re an Ohio educator, you probably know what I’m talking about. Most teachers who do not receive value-added reports are administering vendor assessments or engaging in the Student Learning Objectives (SLO) process to measure student growth this year. These teachers are finding out just how complicated the growth business is.

I know why marriage can be difficult—but what makes measuring student growth so hard? Personally, I think it stems from the fact that a deep understanding of classroom assessment has not been a high priority in many teacher preparation programs. As a result, most of us have not had a lot of practice with assessment design. We’re not sure how to gather the right information to make meaningful instructional decisions and judgments about student gains.

This is where FIP comes in. Formative instructional practices (FIP) are a marriage between instruction and assessment. It’s an interdependent system where what is taught and evidence of student learning form an ongoing feedback loop. Using these practices well requires careful attention to what and how evidence of student learning is collected, so that you have accurate information to use. Gathering and effectively using assessment information really is the heart and soul of FIP.

FIP Your School provides educators with free online learning modules that build the foundational knowledge and skills teachers need to design, choose, or evaluate meaningful assessments. In other words, the FIP modules help build assessment literacy. The modules can help teachers learn how to create and use formal and informal classroom assessments to measure and monitor growth toward a desired target.

I won’t lie. Measuring student growth in meaningful ways does require a pretty high degree of assessment literacy. This doesn't mean that you need a Ph.D. in psychometrics to get started. But assessment literacy is a journey that requires a commitment to continually deepen your knowledge and skills.

Here are some places you might want to start:

As you build assessment literacy skills, try to make every assessment an opportunity to guide your instruction. And stay tuned to this blog for news about more tools and examples that will support your work. But most importantly, don’t forget what else measuring student growth and marriage have in common: the first few years are usually the toughest. But stick with it—it will get easier and it is definitely worth the struggle!