Realistic, Time-Efficient, and Manageable Ways to Monitor Student Growth

Before enumerating some realistic, time efficient, and manageable ways to monitor student growth, let’s clarify what is meant by growth.  According to The Education Trust, a non-profit national organization working to support and expand excellence and equity in education, growth is different from improvement.  Growth makes an assessment of the changes in a student from one year to the next year.  Growth can also help parents and teachers understand how one student’s growth compares to other students at the same level.  Some growth indicators can also predict if a student is ready for either college or a career.

So what can an educator specifically do to monitor student growth? Of course one obvious answer is the use of formal standardized tests and informal classroom tests. But, in addition, here are some realistic, time efficient, and manageable ways:

Provide Positive Feedback

By providing positive feedback to students encourages and motivates them. Positive feedback also helps students become more aware of their performance, and they learn what they do and do not know. Positive feedback also helps students take more responsibility for their own learning. This link provides 20 ways to provide effective feedback for learning

Engage One-on-One During Seat Work

Teachers who circulate around the room during seatwork and interact with students one-on-one can have a significant impact on a student’s progress.  Teachers have an opportunity to provide encouragement and positive feedback to students who seem to be “getting” the material.  More importantly, teachers can give special attention to those students who may need a little extra help.

Test for Understanding during the Lesson

Testing for understanding can be considered a way to monitor growth because it is helping to ensure students really do grasp the material being presented to them and it allows them to make progress towards the next concept. At first, it may sound difficult to test for understanding at the same time you are trying to teach the lesson but it is not as difficult as it sounds. This link provides 21 ways to test for understanding.

Provide Clear Targets for Progress

SWBAT stands for Students Will Be Able To (fill in the progress goal).  Some educators think this statement is written from the teacher’s perspective.  Okay, so if you don’t like that, change it so that it reads I can (fill in the progress goal).  Children in younger grades, like reciting this goal together at the beginning of class.  Older students can choose to write it down. Regardless of age, the target is clear and they know what is expected.  Once that goal is reached, they can strive to achieve the next goal.  That is progress.

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