This year is my first experience to MClass. I’ve heard about it in school since I began teaching three years ago, but more recently it has been discussed in my graduate program (and not in a positive way). This past month has shed light on what my fellow grad students have been talking about.
To start off the year, grades K-3 work on MClass while grades 4 and 5 do running records on students to assess where they are in reading. This is a program that I am familiar with and have used many times in the classroom. The problem I’ve seen with running records is that it is very subjective and the classroom teacher naturally wants the students to show growth at each point in the year so they become a more lean grader as the year goes on. Or, at least, I’m guilty of this…
This brings me to our most recent grade chair meeting. I am the fourth grade representative and was sitting quietly listening to the reading data and why we have to assess students using these methods and found my mind drifting to what I would be doing this weekend. All of a sudden the 5th grade representative next to me spoke up and asked why K-3 did a different assessment program than 4-5. Shouldn’t we all be unified in order to make sure the data is as accurate as it can be?
It sparked an interesting debate, and before I could fully process what was happening, my literacy coach was going to the cafeteria to get our free/reduced lunch numbers and see if we qualified for the state to pay for the program for us to use in the upper grades. Mind you, I was still instilled with the horror stories I had heard about MClass and was dreading the answer of whether we qualified. We left the meeting with more questions than answers and awaited the result all day.
I went back to my team and reported to them the conversation that we had. The opinions were mixed. While they agreed it made sense to be unified, we were then brought to wonder if we had to re-assess the students that we already did running records for or if that would suffice for now.
Around 3:15 I heard my computer chirp and went over to see an e-mail from the literacy coach. Not only were we given the funding for MClass, but my school had purchased it, we had to assess every student on it regardless of whether or not they had a running record done, oh and we had three days to do this.
Red hall was in a tizzy. As if us teachers had nothing better to do than to assess our kids that we already assessed using a program we’ve never done before!? I’m one who usually enjoys new technology and things so I was surprisingly one of the more optimistic teachers about it in my hallway, but I still wondered how in the world I was going to be able to assess all of these students in such a short window of time.
I got trained during lunch and dove right into assessments after lunch. I hate making my kids work quietly for such a long period of time and wasting so much instructional time assessing them. They were moving quickly, and I didn’t hate them any more than I hate other standardized assessments.
I did decide however that if I was going to waste all of this time assessing these poor kids I as at least going to make it worthwhile and put the data to use. I wanted the parents to fully understand what all of those numbers and literacy jargon meant.
I created a form for the parents to see what the scores were, what the goal of 4th grade was, and activities that could be done at home in order to help improve their scores. Hopefully this data will be beneficial and used in a positive way so that I can work with the parents to improve how students read and write. If we work together, we can make amazing progress!