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Karen Lipski

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) released its fall reopening guidance for school districts called “Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together”. As part of this guidance, the CSDE also released a document titled Sensible Assessment Practices for 2020-21 and Beyond.


The assessment guidance does not mandate some new, statewide assessment when schools reopen in the fall. Instead, this guidance recommends a more thoughtful approach that is designed to ease students back into school and focuses on the needs of classroom educators. It specifically recommends the following:


1.       Prior to the start of school, the guidance encourages educators to use the wealth of available information about returning students. This includes longitudinal data, both non-assessment and assessment related. It also encourages vertical teaming of teachers, interventionists, instructional specialists, and related service personnel. Ultimately, using multiple measures in lieu of a single test will result in a stronger “assessment” and better inferences. Teacher professional learning will need to be prioritized.


2.       At the start of the school year, the guidance recommends that teachers build community with their new classes while delivering the first unit. The first unit should not only be engaging, but also allow students to have a high probability of

success in learning the material. This will help students to ease into learning in the new school year and experience success early.


3.       After the first unit, teachers should then shift fully to on-grade instruction with scaffolds and supports as necessary.

o   Focused Interim Assessment Blocks or Regular IABs, or other high-quality fine-grained assessments can serve as quick, short, diagnostic precursors to the on-grade instructional unit.

o   Teachers then deliver differentiated instruction that covers the grade-level content and is personalized to the needs and interests of students.

o   Formative assessment practices should be implemented so teachers can gauge the impact of their teaching by eliciting evidence of student learning, providing feedback, and adjusting their teaching.

o   Tier 2 supports should be offered based on the information derived from the formative assessment practices. The support can be either embedded in the classroom or provided separately based on student need.

o   Optionally, at the end of the unit, teachers may choose to administer an aligned, on-grade IAB or other district determined assessment as a means of evaluating learning mastery.


4.       At the end of the year, the student is administered an on-grade summative assessment (which may be the state assessment for students in Grades 3–8 and 11) to evaluate overall achievement on the state standards.


We hope you find this guidance helpful.