“Preparation Is Everything”: A Fourth Grade Teacher’s Strategy for “Smooth” At-Home Assessments

By: | 09/16/2020
Categories: Data Culture, Distance Learning

Fourth grade math and science dual-language teacher Frank Salinas wants you to know that it is possible to assess students during distance learning and get accurate results. As Salinas, who teaches in the Richardson Independent School District in Texas, explains in the video below, having students take an assessment at home takes a great deal of planning, but his experience is proof that the actual undertaking can go smoothly and deliver reliable data. “Preparation is everything,” he said. “I mean, getting the kids used to everything from the technical side to what the use is for data—all of that is very valuable.”

Salinas’s school uses i-Ready Assessment, Curriculum Associates’ standards-based, adaptive assessment suite, to assess its students. However, his strategies and advice are useful for all educators who are looking to have students takes a Diagnostic at home, regardless of what program they use.

The approach Salinas took can be divided into four broad stages:

Enlisting Families

Salinas had a one-on-one virtual meeting with each and every student’s family so he could explain the importance of the assessment and why he needed their support. In addition to covering how students’ assessment results enabled him to personalize learning, Salinas also spoke to families about the integrity of the data and why they could not help students with answers even when they were struggling.

Preparing Students

Even though many of Salinas’s students had taken an i-Ready Diagnostic before, they’d never taken one from home, so he prepared them for the assessment by covering logistics and reminding them why he needed their best efforts. “You do have to talk to them and get their mind ready,” Salinas said. “You’re ready for this. You're ready for this, and I don't want you to think you're not. I need your best work on every problem.”

Setting Up

During his one-on-one meetings, Salinas gave families instructions and made sure they and students knew exactly what to expect on assessment day. He asked that students have a quiet place to work and a pencil and paper. Before starting the assessment, he reiterated instructions, asked students to grab water, go to the bathroom, etc.

Monitoring

Salinas determined that he would proctor students during the assessment through Zoom™, a videoconferencing program, and by following each individual’s progress on the i-Ready dashboard. He described how he used Zoom to monitor students in the video. Educators who would like even more information about proctoring with videoconferencing programs can download our comprehensive guide. We also have a detailed blog post about enlisting families as proctors available.

"I would encourage teachers to be open minded and creative. There are ways to do—I think—pretty much everything we do in the classroom online."
— Frank Salinas

What Next?

The Curriculum Associates’ Educator Success team has created a number of distance-learning and at-home assessment resources and made them available for free on our website, including guides to remote proctoring, webinar recordings, and more.

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Frank Salinas is a fourth grade math and science dual-language teacher in the Richardson Independent School District in Texas. Before he became an educator, Frank worked as a patient advocate at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and was the administrator of one the largest nonprofit children’s clinic in Dallas.

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