A regular checkup. We have them to check our teeth, our eyes, our hearing and our overall health. They are essential to identify problems early so they can be remedied before there is any real trouble. And, if you have children, you are probably adamant that they get their annual doctor’s checkup right before the new school year. You wouldn’t even consider skipping a review if it meant putting them at risk.
There is another regular checkup that is critically important to children—the checkup on their academic progress.
Academic assessments are designed to measure student learning in core subjects so parents and teachers can have a clear understanding of their progress against academic goals. This way, learning gaps can be identified and addressed early on to best support the student.
Across the country, states are adopting new, updated assessments in math and language arts that are aligned to high educational standards. Unlike the old assessments, which largely measured how well a student could memorize information, the new assessments evaluate deep understanding of concepts. This will prepare our kids for the challenges they will face in the real world.
Remarkably, there are people who want to do away with assessments. They say they aren’t of value. They say all this testing is putting too much stress on teachers and students. They say they want to do away with “high-stakes testing.”
The truth is, “high-stakes testing” is the opposition’s way of saying they want to do away with teacher evaluations that are based in part on student learning. And, how do we measure student learning? You got it—with assessments.
The truth is, there is no better way to measure student learning.
There is a saying in business: “What gets measured gets done.” The keys to measurement are to monitor progress and evaluate performance. It’s only after these steps that a businessperson can make the necessary adjustments to maximize progress—and best set their company up for success.
The same is true for student learning. When we measure and evaluate student performance, we have a clear sense of how we can help students in areas where they need improvement—and how to further engage them in areas in which they excel.
Just like an annual physical checkup helps ensure a healthy body, an annual academic checkup is necessary to best ensure a healthy mind.