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Pilot assessment launched in Howard-Suamico

By Ben Rodgers

SUAMICO – The first seeds for a new way to assess students in the Howard-Suamico School District were planted Monday, May 6, but it will take a few years to reap the harvest entirely.

The school board learned on May 6 the first group of students to undergo a new assessment measuring skills linked to the district’s graduate profile took place earlier that day at Forest Glen and Howard Elementary schools.

“What I was able to see, you couldn’t see that on a multiple choice assessment,” said Amanda Waldo, coordinator of teaching and learning. “It was amazing.”

For nearly a year the board has worked on the skills students who graduate from the district should have – the profile of a graduate.

Those skills include students who are a self-starter, critical thinker, collaborator, communicator, adaptable, responsible and a solutionist.

A team of 50 educators in the district started work on what these assessments would look like, how data would be collected, and how curriculum would be developed around the graduate profile.

“Once again, we’re working through this together and wanting to have multiple sources of data that really bring that ownership to our students and teachers and get us to a place where we can have students leave our doors with those seven characteristics that define our graduate profile,” Waldo said.

The May 6 assessment of fourth-graders is the first attempt at gauging those skills, which will eventually take place at all grade levels.

“The graduate profile is our North Star in all curriculum development,” Waldo said.

Dr. Becky Walker, assistant superintendent of academics and innovation, said the standard multiple choice assessments of students are still valuable, but they do not paint a complete picture of individual learning.

“In 2019, as we come forward with the new graduate profile, we are looking at some modifications to that,” Walker said, “and the performance assessment we talked about at the end of September is part of the start of that. What we are looking at is how do we get a clear picture of what our student skills are so that data can be used to make decisions on how do we best help our students in those areas.”

For the new assessment, educators will sit with students in small groups and observe how they address a problem and come up with a solution as individuals, using the seven skills of the graduate profile.

Walker said it could be three to five years before the assessments are deployed district-wide and in all areas of academics taught in Howard-Suamico schools.

“We’re on the right track,” said Gary Sievert, board member. “I’m a little excited.”

In other news, the board formally recognized a donation from the Shopko Foundation of $200,000 it received in April.

“It was bittersweet going out in the community and presenting our final checks to the organizations,” said Michelle Hansen, Shopko manager of public relations and the Shopko Foundation. “I think the best part of being part of the community is having the privilege to learn about the unique programs and the things organizations and schools do in our community.”

The Ashwaubenon-based retailer declared bankruptcy in January and announced in March it would be closing all of its stores.

With the liquidation, Shopko also ended the Shopko Foundation with a series of donations totaling $2.5 million.

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