Assessment Philosophy 

Teachers, support staff and administrators at the Spencerport Central School District understand that assessment is an ongoing process by which teachers gather information and data to help guide instruction. Throughout this progression, Spencerport teachers engage students in both formal and informal assessment measures. The assessment practices at all Spencerport schools is deeply rooted in our mission to educate and inspire each student to love learning, pursue excellence and use knowledge, skills and attitudes to contribute respectfully and confidently to an ever-changing global community.

Each assessment cycle begins with defining the learning that is to take place during a unit of instruction. Teacher and Team Leaders at each grade level have been working with Dr. Susan Meier of the Warner School of Education to develop specific and concrete learning targets. By creating sound learning targets that are aligned to content area standards, teachers are able to develop specific formative and summative assessments that measure student learning. When creating learning targets and subsequent assessments, teachers across grade levels and subject areas take the Six Instructional Shifts outlined by the Common Core Standards for ELA and Literacy into consideration. This practice helps to ensure that literacy instruction is a priority throughout the district. 

Formative assessments are embedded in daily lessons and classroom practices. These assessments can be described as assessments for learning. The purpose of formative assessment is to monitor student learning in an effort to modify instruction to meet the needs of individual students. Formative assessments are often informal in nature. These assessments are low stakes and may not carry a grade. However, formative assessments should always generate in-process data that results in a clearer understanding of where students are in their trajectory towards established learning targets. 

On the other hand, summative assessments are assessments of learning. Such assessments take place at the end of a unit of instruction, are used to evaluate learning and are most often used for a grade. With that said, summative assessments can be used formatively if students and/or teachers reflect on the data gleaned from these assessments or use this information in future learning activities. 

Across the district, Spencerport teachers are working to create assessments that are more formative in nature.  Our collective goal is to offer students a wide variety of experiences during which they can showcase what they have learned. Through the Teaching is the Core Grant, Spencerport teachers and administrators have worked with Giselle O. Martin-Kniep to create tasks that focus on assessment as learning. Simply put, these are assessments that are embedded within a unit of instruction and act as catalysts of student centered assessment and learning.

As we continue to revise assessment practices, Spencerport teachers, administrators and support staff are working to allow students at each grade level a greater degree of opportunity and ownership in the assessment process. In doing so, students will be able to discern the qualities of rich and meaningful work. More importantly, they will become reflective and self-directed learners. A deliberate shift from high-stakes summative assessment and test preparation will foster students who are actively engaged in practice of assessment. By working collaboratively with teachers and other learners, students will become empowered to monitor their own learning and progress.