Blog Series

Back to School 2020: A Fall Like No Other

by Voyager Sopris Learning on Jun 10, 2020

  • Assessment
  • COVID Slide
  • COVID-19
  • Learning Loss

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Back to school 2020 will be like no other in history. As districts, schools, and families begin to work through educational plans for the new academic year, educators must address student learning loss during the extended spring school closure—known as the COVID slide. School reopening plans will vary, depending on many safety, social, and economic factors. However, one thing will be certain: teachers must have valid ways to reliably assess where students are in their progression of learning. Educators will need to determine how much student math and reading levels dropped during the long shutdown, and they’ll need answers to questions like, “Were students able to learn and maintain new math and science skills while studying at home?” “And how are the students emotionally? For instance, is prealgebra still on students’ radars as they may have friends and family who have been impacted by the virus?

Despite these uncertainties, educators still want students to make progress toward the academic goals set out in state achievement standards. Whether in a fully online classroom or a blended in-person and online setting, teachers will need to find ways to assess where students are on their learning path. The assessments they use must be robust and provide information that will be immediately useful. District or school-level assessments that are aligned to standards and designed to be administered periodically through the year will be of great value.

Enter ClearSight, a new online assessment platform covering English Language Arts and Mathematics, grades K–11, writing grades 2–11, and science grades 5, 8, and 11. While the ClearSight name may be new, the history and research behind the assessments are not: ClearSight (formerly AIRWays® Assessment) was created by the student assessment division of the American Institutes for Research®, one of the world’s-largest behavioral and social science research organizations.

ClearSight stands out due to its rigorous content, proven platform, and actionable reporting. ClearSight will not only track student growth but also assess where students are at the beginning of the 2020–2021 school year. Teachers can use ClearSight results to plan for remediation and know when students are ready to learn new grade-level content. With these results, districts and schools can evaluate curriculum and instructional plans to support progress toward success on state summative assessments next spring.

Administering ClearSight Interim Assessments from the previous grade can indicate where an incoming class or group of students may need additional instruction on prior-year concepts before moving forward with new content. Using ClearSight Checkpoint Assessments, also from the previous grade, can inform remediation for smaller groups of students. ClearSight reports are available immediately after testing and can inform instructional decisions in real time.

For example, sixth grade teachers using the ClearSight Interim Mathematics Assessment from grade 5 can identify where students are in understanding standards addressing numbers and operations with fractions before beginning sixth grade units on the number system. Using the ClearSight Checkpoint Assessments on Number and Operations—Fractions, educators can retest students after remediation. The multiple forms will provide flexibility for educators to reassess students as a group or individually. The reports will help identify groups of students who may need additional instruction before beginning to learn division with fractions. As instruction progresses through the year, Grade 6 Interim and Checkpoint Assessments can be used to track student progress toward Grade 6 achievement standards. Additionally, Acadience® Math K–6 is useful for screening and progress monitoring of foundational math skills. Educators can measure the effectiveness of their school-wide support systems and also progress monitor students with these measures that are sensitive to small amounts of growth in short periods of time.

More than ever before, assessing math and reading levels will be critical. Students reading at home may have had fewer opportunities to interact with literary and informational texts, and they also may not have had the instructional support to tackle higher-level content or practice and apply those developing skills. In addition to classroom interactions, teachers can use the powerful combination of ClearSight and Acadience® Reading K–6. Using the ClearSight Interim ELA Assessment from the previous grade and the ClearSight ELA Checkpoint Assessment on reading literary or informational texts, teachers can determine areas for additional instruction. With Acadience Reading K–6 teachers will have a measure that is sensitive to small changes in growth during short periods of time and can be efficiently and economically implemented. This combination of assessment tools allows teachers to tailor instruction and identify and monitor growth of students who are experiencing difficulty in the acquisition of foundational literacy skills.

In Fall 2020, educators will be tasked with overcoming skill loss in literacy and math and bridging gaps in students’ foundational knowledge. Explore the evidence-based solutions Voyager Sopris Learning offers to overcome COVID slide.

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