“Will they pass to 4th grade?”

One of the reasons I struggle with blogging is because I have so many small thoughts. I guess it’s a little ADHD. Have a conversation with me and I rarely stay on a single topic without jumping all over the place. Even now, I see the little Twitter symbol and I’m tempted to pause and see what’s in the Twitter-sphere…

Yep… I got sidetracked…

Twitter is amazing for Math Ed. If you’re not on Twitter, DO IT. Just for math ed. That’s all you need. Go to my list, follow the people I follow. You won’t get bored, the worst that’ll happen is you’ll get INSPIRED.


I remember so many times through the years being asked by a parent if their child would “pass” the grade. It’s an interesting question. And it never failed to catch me off guard. I’m curious the background of this. Are there systems where students aren’t socially promoted these days?

Here’s my real issue with this question though:

It’s based on an assumption of proficiency-based assessment.

Which is so effing detrimental!! (Should I start cursing in my blog? Because I do in real life.) I was chatting with a 3rd grade teacher today who is amazing. Incredible. She’d make a bomb-ass math coach. (There, I did it.) She was asked this question, “Will my child pass to the 4th grade?” She was just as taken aback as I always was. She expressed this dichotomy between wanting her students to do well on CAASPP these next two weeks, and also recognizing that it will fail to report the insane growth her students have demonstrated this year.

But at the end of the day, we all want to receive credit for a job well done… a battle won… for our effort to go recognized.

We may say we don’t care, but teachers deserve to be recognized! This teacher has brought her class from an average 1st grade level, to nearly at grade level. But her CAASPP scores will show that her 3rd graders are starting below grade level. That sucks.

I have a dream…

That’s super cliche. Sorry. Not sorry? I do have a dream. That some day, all students will be assessed based on 2 things:

  • What skills do they have?
  • What skills are next for them?
  • (And a 3rd: Where have they grown since last time?)

You could word this a million ways. There are books dedicated to this idea and they all use different jargon. (See what DeVos has to say.) At the end of the day, I just want to know how far a student has grown since the last time they were assessed. There’s this nifty little video explaining Common Core and it talks about the bar used to always be moving. With CAASPP, SBAC, PARCC, any proficiency-based assessment, the bar is always moving.

Ok, I’ll step down…

What assessments do you use to assess student growth? What do you do in your classroom to offset the negative culture that abounds with proficiency-based assessment?

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