By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – The Howard-Suamico school board agreed at its Monday, Dec. 10, meeting to move forward with the initial stages of a new assessment to better gauge 21st century learning.
The board agreed to lay the groundwork this spring for an assessment that looks at students’ skills relative to the district’s Profile of a Graduate, which the board previously approved.
Those skills include students who are a self-starter, critical thinker, collaborator, communicator, adaptable, responsible and a solutionist.
With the profile in place, the board turned its focus onto the creation of an assessment that will track results to make sure students are gaining the skills highlighted in the profile.
“This is something that lives and breathes throughout the classroom at all times,” said Amanda Waldo, coordinator of teaching and learning. “It’s something that’s not a sum of experience.”
It will take 3 to 5 years to entirely implement the new assessment for all students in the district.
Starting in spring, the district will select a random group of students at various grade levels to complete the new assessment in the areas of literacy and math.
The assessment will focus on a student completing a task using skills that are in the Profile of a Graduate, instead of an assessment that focuses on the correct multiple choice or short-word answers.
“We need to shift the type of assessments we use to get the outcomes we’re hoping for for our kids,” Waldo said.
HSSD will still use some current assessments moving forward, but this new one will likely replace HSSD 21, by the time it is fully implemented.
District staff will now work on the development of a continuum for the curriculum to match the Profile of a Graduate.
“It’s really important that we’re building in performance tasks all the way through so that they’re applying what they’re learning in real life,” said Dr. Becky Walker, assistant superintendent of academics and innovation.
As the curriculum is developed, that will lead to classroom instruction, which in turn will ideally produce results aligned with the Profile of a Graduate, Walker said.
Mike Frieder, Bay Port High School principal, said the difficult part will be the creation and implementation of the updated curriculum.
“With this concept, I’ve heard little feedback with not agreeing with it,” Frieder said. “In theory our teachers feel this is the right thing to do, how we do it, that’s another topic.”
Another goal of the new assessment is to provide students with a profile of their accomplishments by the time they graduate from the district.
“It does shift the way we look at things, and it’s exciting,” Frieder said. “In the long run it’s going to be better for our students when they leave high school.”
In the coming months the district will work on getting the word out about the new assessment, as Walker said there is bound to be some concern.
“You may have questions come from students, there may be questions coming from parents,” Walker said. “This is something different we are going to have to build capacity of all involved as we do this.”
The motion passed unanimously.
“This is certainly a long-lasting learning procedure that is fantastic from a teaching perspective,” said Gary Sievert, board member.