Platte1 District Assessment System: Why do we “check the oil?”


WHEATLAND – I can recall the times when I was heading back to college and my father would say, “Don’t forget to check the oil.” It did not matter how many times I was home over the course of the year, I would hear that phrase on each visit. It is not a bad thing to be reminded to check the oil, in fact, think of the repercussions if you do not!

Educating our future generations is a complex, difficult, and rewarding process all wrapped up into one profession. We all recognize the importance of education and ultimately career readiness (what it all boils down to in the end). Platte County School District No. 1 has multiple guiding factors in our system ranging from Board Policies to Fiscal Management to Building-Level Practices, but none are more important than the Educational Standards that we teach. These standards are designed to guide our teachers, principals, and staff members to provide the greatest possible educational experience for our students. The standards we teach are numerous but we find a way to address them so the students benefit. Once they are presented, we need to know how our students are doing…hence “Check the Oil.”

Our District Assessment System (DAS, because education is riddled with acronyms) is almost as complex as the standards themselves. The DAS is designed to help us check the oil and see the understanding level of our students. Our system has multiple checks, some mandated by the State and some are District driven. I’ll chat about one state driven and one district driven assessment, but would be happy to discuss any other DAS that you would like.

A portion of our state accountability programs is contained in the Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP), a “system of modular on-demand, interim, and summative assessments in English

Language, mathematics, and science.” The summative assessments are given to students in grades 3-8 in the spring and are adaptive in nature. That means the questions change based on the response of the student. If the student continues to get the questions correct, the test continues to advance in difficulty so they can find the correct level. The assessment will continue to probe until the completion of the assessment. We also utilize their interim assessments to help prepare for the summative assessment and provide our teachers and students of their growth and progress towards the standards.

Another valuable component of our DAS are the teacher created CFAs. Common formative assessments

(CFA) are a great product for our school district and are designed by our teachers. Our teachers administer these classroom assessments in all grade levels and content areas in order to calibrate their instruction towards the standards. They meet in their team meetings to review the classroom data to help guide their instruction. It is a great collaborative process for our district and provides valuable feedback for the advancement of student learning.

Overall, it is not a bad practice to check your oil as time moves on. In education, we have a finite amount of time with our students and we want to get the most mileage out of each and every student.