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Pilot Post – Sept 23, 2022

Dear Families, 

It was wonderful seeing so many of you at Meet the Teachers Night last night.  We had a great turnout and there was a lot of positive energy in the building!  Meet the Teachers Night always feels like “the end of the beginning,” and with that in mind, I’m looking forward to tucking into the routine of the school year.

I thought I’d take some time to talk about assessments this week, as we are wrapping up our benchmarking and will soon enter the progress monitoring phase of the school year.  

At Pilot, we give benchmark assessments in several measures of Reading (fluency, comprehension, vocabulary) and several measures of Math (number sense, fluency, conceptual understanding and application).  Benchmark assessments happen three times a year and are norm referenced, meaning they provide a percentile score against same-aged peers across the country taking the same test.  Benchmarks give us an idea of how students are performing relative to other students.

If benchmark scores indicate the need, progress monitoring assessments are given weekly so that we can closely watch students’ growth in response to intervention.  Progress monitoring is short, so it doesn’t interfere with instruction, and it measures growth of specific skills.  Progress monitoring gives us an idea of how a student is performing against themselves (current performance compared to previous performance).

In both of these cases, we use what is called curriculum-based measures (CBM).  CBM’s assess a sample of all the skills that are planned to be taught in a single year.  Each test is an alternate form–it has different questions but they are all the same level of difficulty. That means that in September (this week) students are being assessed on all of the content that is planned to be taught over this entire year. In January or May, the CBM samples the year’s curriculum in exactly the same way (but with different items). That way, tests taken at different times of the school year can be compared to tell us whether a student is making progress.  

What does that mean for the student experience?  Well, students are likely to struggle on these early tests because they haven’t learned all the material or developed all the skills yet!  But the tests offer an excellent place for us to teach mindfulness, resilience, confidence in the face of struggle, and trust in the process.  The best part about curriculum-based measures is that as students make progress, we get to show them that line climbing high and to the right.  We get to offer them a visual of their progress.  We remind them of that moment back in September when they may have felt unsure of themselves and we reflect on what it took to arrive at a better place in June.  Those conversations are truly the best.

So, here’s to fresh starts and big climbs ahead!  Thank you again for the lovely showing at Meet the Teachers Night.  Have a fabulous fall weekend, everyone.


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