Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

As we work more with schools and families this year to address mounting questions regarding learning loss and COVID slide, we appreciate—more than ever—the role of high-quality assessments.

In a recent article, Chris Stewart, CEO of Brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists, highlighted that the role of assessment is twofold:

  • First, as a parent, you want to see, especially now, that within the classroom, formative assessment is helping drive instruction to fill in the gaps where your child needs interventions. The teacher can learn from this week to week formative assessment data and understand what your child needs to know.
  • Second, as a parent, teacher, or school administrator, you want to carefully review data from summative assessments, more so than ever. The summative part lets the public know how our schools are doing comparatively. Specifically, it lets a larger community of stakeholders know whether they need to seek improvements. 

Stewart warns, “I have a real worry about what I’m calling a ‘data vacation.’ I think that a lot of people are using COVID as a timely excuse to take a data vacation for a year or maybe two. I see that a lot, as if we would decide not to take Americans’ blood pressure for the next two years because people are in disarray. If we did that, hypertension would go out of control. And we wouldn’t find out who was most at risk until we got back from the data vacation.”

We appreciate Stewart’s point, so we are excited to be working with families and schools to avoid a data vacation. We are finding flexible and creative ways to administer and analyze assessments—long, short, in-between, formative, and summative—to gather as much meaningful data as we can to drive focused instructional interventions.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO