The Assessment Challenge
Meeting the Challenge
In order to meet the challenge of full inclusion of migrant students in assessment processes, and in order to gain a true picture of the achievement of migrant students, we must address the issue systemically. And, as with other student populations, no one assessment instrument or process is sufficient. Rather, we need a system for gathering multiple measures of student achievement in order to build educational supports that will adequately address the needs of our students.
A few of the needed supports include:
- Better communication between MEP staff and mainstream staff - Too often it is only the MEP staff that has a clear understanding of who the migrant students are in the system. Because the identification and recruitment process is not well understood by mainstream staff, it is critical that MEP staff take on the responsibility of ensuring good communication with schools and districts working with migrant children.
- Coordination of efforts to include migrant students in existing test administrations and assessment processes - If program participation is not appropriately bubbled or pre-slugged for migrant students participating in standardized test administration, then their performance will not clearly emerge as a subgroup.
- Use of classroom based evidence of student success - Often evidence of student learning gathered at the classroom level may present the most in-depth picture of student learning. It is important the MEP staff stay in close contact with mainstream teachers to ensure that we are able to mine those rich sources of information on our students. The better we are able to stay in close alignment with existing classroom-based processes and measurements, the less need there is for duplication of effort in terms of student assessment. Just as importantly, this will allow us to more carefully design supplemental services that avoid duplication of services and minimize student segregation.
In order to adequately address the educational needs of our preschool students Region 1 strives to screen 100% of our children annually. By screening our preschoolers, we are able to identify academic and socio-emotional strengths/weakness and developmental delays. The data collected is used to establish baseline information on the developmental readiness of our students. Unit and skill assessments are used to develop lesson plans that address the academic strengths and weaknesses of our students.
Meeting this goal is a yearly challenge due to student migratory patterns but we constantly remind our districts that pre- and post- assessments are the best measures to gauge the effectiveness of our MESRP program. In particular, we use the following assessments/screens:
- Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS): this test aims to capture growth in English uppercase letter recognition and is also administered in the Fall and the Spring.
- Brigance Screen II: this screen is currently used by the Region 1 to easily identify a child's development in the areas of language, gross and visual motor, self-help, social emotional and cognitive skills. Brigance screen is conducted in English and/or Spanish following the child's dominant language. The screen is administered twice a year for students who participate in our programs and once per year for all other children.
Last but not least, in addition to conducting formative "minor" assessments throughout the year, as referenced in the previous section we will be requesting that all MESRP sites conduct a mid-year assessment that can be shared with the parents to ensure that parents are being looped into supporting our ECE instructors by working more intensively with their children on key growth areas in the home.
K-12 and Out of School Youth (OSY) Assessments
- Needs Assessment Forms - A program requirement is that all newly-enrolled migrant children must have a Needs Assessment Form completed within thirty (30) days. This is a safety net for migrant students who may not be enrolled at the beginning of the school year, may be gone during enrolling windows, and/or may have withdrawn before the end of the year. At the minimum, we must use the Needs Assessment Process to ensure that the needs of ALL migrant students are addressed in both the district and supplemental MEP instructional service plans.
- Promotion/Retention Data - With the increased attention on student and school accountability, it is important that we know which of our students are being retained. MEP can play a critical role in drawing the family into the process, and ensuring that the communication between the school and the home is effective. We know that historically the issue of OVERAGE FOR GRADE has been a significant issue for our migrant students, enough so that funding formulas typically address this area of need. Solid dialogue between the MEP staff and the districts serving migrant children will help build supports needed for student success.
- Secondary Student Data - Region 1 systematically reviews the student transcripts of all secondary migrant students. We have standardized the data collection points and are able to build a profile for each of our secondary systems serving migrant youth. Information is collected and compiled around the following data elements: grade placement, on course to graduate, A-G requirements for secondary students, grade point average, credit deficiencies, 90% attendance, Algebra 1 completion, English Language Development, special education placements and State testing scores. The information we gather is compiled, and a profile of the achievement of the migrant secondary students is developed. Additionally, the information on individual students is available to MEP staff, so that appropriate supports can be put into place to help ensure student success.
Out of School Youth Profiles - Region 1 is working to meet the challenges of better identifying our Out of School Youth, profiling their individual needs, collaborating with districts and community agencies to develop a network of supports for them, and build a measurement system for evaluating the success of our programs. We have developed an Initial Needs Assessment (INA) to be used by local staff as they identify and begin working with Out of School Youth. The purpose of the assessment is to inform staff in regards to the needs and interests of each student and provide us with a starting point for providing services that meet each student's individual needs. INA completion rates and individual data elements from the INAs are tracked through the regional office in order to ensure accountability and track trends in student needs. In addition, Region 1 tracks the history of interventions that each OSY receives on MSIN 6.0. This tool will enable us to track trends, identify major barriers, and evaluate the effectiveness of our programs.