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What's my child learning in school?

posted Jul 21, 2015, 1:27 PM by Valerie Newton   [ updated Jul 21, 2015, 1:46 PM ]
Parents, have you ever wondered what your child is learning in school? Want to know what the teachers instructional goals and objectives are for the class? Heard teachers use the term "pacing guides" but didn't know the meaning? 

Pacing guides are used in school districts around the country as a curriculum road map. These guides provide a timeline of when specific content should be taught, a schedule of content that can be updated as needed, aligns with current state curriculum standards (or a standard course of study), includes summative assessment tools, provides consistency across grade levels, and serves as an accountability tool. Pacing guides lay out the expectations of material to be covered in each subject at each grade level.

Here are some other terms and their meaning that you may hear in reference to student performance:

Assessment
As assessment is anything by which we can measure student learning. Thus is might be a multiple-choice test (often selected for its efficiency and objective scoring), but it might also be a portfolio, composition, speech, set of open response questions, task, lab activity... numerous options are available. An ideal assessment measures student learning in a way that fits the standards being measured. While common assessments might measure learning for a standard in one way, it's important that teachers use multiple measures (i.e., measure it in a variety of ways).

Benchmark
A benchmark assessment is 1 in a series that measures student progress on crucial goals throughout the school year. Terms may cross over; for example, benchmark assessments are typically common assessments, etc.

Common
A common assessment is one that teachers in similar classrooms all administer in a similar way. In other words, all 7th Grade English teachers administer 7th Grade ELA Assessment 1 at the end of September, then they all administer 7th Grade ELA Assessment 2 at the end of November, etc. This allows teachers to check students' progress as a whole (e.g., entire site), compare results to share what is working in their classrooms, etc. Remember that terms may cross over: e.g., a common assessment may also be an interim assessment, etc.

Formative
A common misunderstanding is that a test is either summative or formative; in actuality, these terms describe what you do with the results, and a test may be used for both summative and formative purposes. Formative "tests" give teachers and students feedback at regular intervals throughout the course of instruction so they can then act upon this feedback to improve learning. This feedback may come from a formal assessment, or it may simply be on-the-spot feedback from a response board, clickers, etc.

Interim
Interim assessments are those administered at regular intervals. Remember that terms may cross over: e.g., an interim assessment may also be a common assessment, it can be used for formative or summative purposes, etc.

Summative
Remember that a test can be both summative and formative. Summative testing involves using test results to evaluate the degree to which students have mastered contents/standards at a particular point in time. This can also involve evaluation of instructional programs, curriculum, practices, progress toward district goals, etc.

Bladen County Schools Pacing Guides are now online for viewing. Each content area, ie; Math, Science, Social Studies, etc, has it's own pacing guide by grade level. You can locate the pacing guides within the Documents tab at the top of this page. Navigate to the Curriculum folder, open the Curriculum sub-folder to view all our pacing guides by content. 

Or, you can click this link Pacing Guides to go directly to the pacing guides.