New math assessment tool helps SCSD improve K-2 instruction

— Ward said she finds AIMSweb to be user-friendly and time-efficient. With each test taking only 60 seconds, it’s easy to administer and simple to score. “The kids don’t even realize they’re taking a test,” she said. “We call it a ‘quick check,’ not a test, and they love to see how they did.”

Ward, who has been in the Skaneateles district 16 years, said that while there have been previous assessments programs — also called ‘interventions’ — in place, she finds AIMSweb to be the best she has used.

“We’re able to focus on where the student’s needs are, see the needs and see their strengths,” she said. “This helps us to better monitor student progress — it’s a great resource.”

After the tests are administered, student scores are entered into the AIMSweb program, which shows each child’s ranking under national and state standards, and even suggests if there is a need to change instruction.

The assessments are administered every fall, winter and spring, so a student’s ability and improvement can be tracked throughout the school year.

Gerst, who was a math curriculum coordinator earlier in his career, said he has long been concerned that curriculum-based assessments at local, state and national levels — which have focused so much on reading — have not been as focused on math, especially at the primary level of K through 2. In an educational environment in which STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] is being so heavily promoted nationwide, it only made sense that Skaneateles should look into a better assessment tool.

“The key part of assessment is how do you inform instruction. It’s a buzzword, but it really is a key piece for us now,” he said.

As an elementary principal in the West Genesee school district, he saw firsthand the use and effect of the AIMSweb program there. So when he was hired as principal of Waterman this past summer, he broached the subject to Skaneateles district administrators and suggested the district look into it.

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