by Naomi Barbour
Teachers, Literacy Specialist Assistants, Counselors and Administrators came together over a shared lunch and tasty dessert (courtesy of Laura) to discuss ways to support Language and Learning Center students through the end-of-Trimester assessments. Last trimester, our first with a new Assessment Policy and also our first ever Trimester in High School, the week before the end of the trimester became known as “Crunch Week”. It was also referred to as “Finals Week on steroids”. Language and Learning Center educators wanted to be part of the concerted effort on the part of Administration to find ways to alleviate the strain on all involved.
We began by looking at visual representations of real students and the assessment pressures they faced during the so-called Crunch Week. In small groups, we discussed these pressures and also brainstormed other factors that might be adding to the strain on students. The rich discussion that ensued help raise awareness about why we need to provide systems and procedures that support our students, particularly at a time when they need to be at their best in order to demonstrate their learning in summative assessments.
The images represent current students from different grade levels and their schedule for "crunch week" or final week of the trimester.
The discussion then turned to the issue of planning for extra time for our Academic Support students who have accommodations. This has become an acute problem since the change in the length of lessons. Previously, a test might have taken 60 minutes of a 90 minute block. Students who needed extra time could use the whole of the block to do the test. Now that we have shorter blocks, there is not enough time to get assessments finished. This leaves students struggling to complete unfinished assessments, a problem which was exacerbated in Crunch Week. Unfortunately, our group was not able to come up with an immediate solution for this issue.
We hope to meet again next month to look at an area which is challenging for Language and Learning Center students: note-taking. We hope you can join us then.