My school is completely on the common assessment bandwagon. My team spent half an hour this morning (not an immense amount of time, I know, but still...) creating a common assessment for our major first quarter math standards.
One teacher recommended three questions/activities to do one-on-one with students, in an interview format. I balked. Not because I disagreed. I completely agree. In fact, I've done two of those questions/activities with my students already. I balked because I'm not convinced that, as a common assessment for this purpose, it is worth the time involved.
This has been on the back of my mind all day. I, like many, many other teachers, do a lot of interview type of assessment. When I work with students I am asking them questions, listening as they explain how they worked through a problem, or simply observing their process. As I do so I am gaining a lot of assessment data. A lot.
But that's not common. I don't mean it's not something a lot of teachers do. It is. I mean it's not a standard assessment that all seven classroom teachers on my first grade team can do. It's not even standard for all seventeen kids in my classroom. It's constantly changing and adapting based on the student.
So, in addition to that constant assessment I now have to do a 'common assessment' with my team. We could use a really quick assessment but we want something that will actually give us meaningful information. That requires, typically, something that is a bit more time intensive.
We have to do a pre-assessment and a post-assessment each quarter. (We are allowed to do more. Isn't that generous?) A quarter is nine weeks long. A meaningful assessment in first grade very likely requires that I administer it individually or in small groups. That means it will take several days, possibly a week. So now I'm spending close to two of my nine weeks assessing my students in this formal manner. That's time I lose from small group or individual instruction.
I'm simply not convinced that this is worth the time we are investing in it.
And don't even get me started on common pacing.