Assessment Implications: The Impact of High Stakes Assessments on the Language Learning Journey

This week on the ML Chat Podcast we are bringing you something a little different. Last month we hosted our latest in the ML Chat Webinar Series where we were joined by multilingual educators from across the country to discuss high-stakes assessments. 

The webinar featured Jen Albury and Jayme Croff, who you may have heard on previous episodes of this podcast. 

We covered some critical topics like:

  • How can do create opportunities for productive language practice as part of your curriculum and instruction?
  • How are formative moments in the classroom informing instruction? 
  • How do we embed productive language in Tier I? 
  • And something that is on a lot of our minds, how do you address the opportunity cost when students don’t exit ELD?
The conversation was so insightful, we wanted to share it with our podcast listeners! 

If you’d like to join our next ML Chat Webinar,  visit

For now, enjoy this engaging conversation with Jen and Jayme. 

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[00:00:00] Mandi Morris: Hi, everyone. This week on the ML Chat podcast, we are bringing you something a little different. Last month, we hosted our latest in the ML Chat webinar series, where we were joined by multilingual educators from across the country to discuss high stakes assessments. The webinar featured Jen Albury and Jamie Croft.

You may have heard on previous episodes of this podcast. We covered some critical topics like how do you create opportunities for productive language practice as part of your curriculum and instruction? How are formative moments in the classroom informing instruction? How do we embed productive language in Tier 1?

And something that is on a lot of our minds, how do you address the opportunity cost when students don’t exit ELD? The conversation was so insightful and we wanted to share it with our podcast listeners. If you’d like to join our next ML Chat webinar, visit mlchatpodcast. com slash webinar. For now, enjoy this engaging conversation with Jen and Jamie.

I’ll go ahead and introduce myself. Hi, I’m Mandi Morris. I’m the National Curriculum and Instruction Specialist here at Flashlight 360. Again, I’m so excited and thankful to be here with you today and with Jen and Jamie, our incredible panelists whom I’ll introduce in just a minute. We’re really looking forward to talking about state language assessment.

This is a topic that everyone has an opinion about. We all have feelings about these high stakes assessments and the impact they have for our students, for our learning community. But before we dive into that, just take a moment to think about how you want to show up today for our webinar. So on a scale of one to seven, one is I put this on my calendar, so it was blocked off for an hour.

I’m dimming the lights in my room or my office, and I am taking a nap. That’s a one, alright? My calendar’s blocked off, and I’m technically here. Or a seven is, I’m here for what you have to bring. I’m gonna bring all of my learning and all of my knowledge with me to share, to participate. And I’m hoping, I’m planning to walk away with something new.

I want some new learning. That’s a seven. So put your number in the chat. No shame. We’re here for you. No matter what number you’re coming at today. We’re thankful that you’re here to spend time with us. Okay, so I’m going to go ahead and introduce our panelists. And just for the flow of our conversation today, we have some questions that we’ll be working through.

Really just a discussion about what is state language assessment mean for our students? And then as coordinators, instructors, teachers, directors, what does it mean for us? What is our responsibility in the high stakes assessment of these language state assessments? And then after we work through some of those questions, we will have time for a Q and A at the end.

And we are so excited to hear your questions and hear from both Jamie and Jen. Jen Albury is the Director of Multilingual Education at Holyoke School District in Massachusetts. She began her teaching career in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she lived for 10 years with her husband and children, and started a language center that used an individualized English for Specific Purpose approach to learning an additional language.

Jen is currently a doctoral candidate focusing on inclusion for multilingual learners. And I know that she has class all day after she’s out of this meeting, so thank you, Jen, for being here because I know it is you have a lot of demands on your time. Jamie Kropp is the Multilingual Coordinator for Peninsula School District for Washington State.

Her curiosity and interest in EL, ML education started in her very first teaching job 16 years ago in Yakima, Washington. After moving to Edmond School District, she made the leap into ML education. Thank you, Jamie, for doing that. And then she became a specialist and then an instructional coach. In her current role, she supports MLs stretched out over a very large school district.

And she is balancing inclusive teaching practices with limited staff whom she refers to as Wonder Women. We are so thankful for you both to be here. And to just learn together in this space today. Okay. So Jamie, I’m going to kick off the first question in your direction. How can you create opportunities for productive language practice as part of your curriculum and instruction?

[00:04:23] Jayme Croff: wE know that the speaking and writing domains of our language assessments tend to be the most challenging for students, and it’s sometimes the last things to come in language development. This speaking assessment is especially difficult when we’re asking our kids to talk into a computer. And I just think getting our kids in the gen ed classrooms to talk, talk miles on the tongue getting them to play with and learn through expressive language is key.

I think that sometimes it’s either a quiet room or it’s overly structured. And sometimes just letting kids experiment with the new language that they’re learning and play with it is. Powerful jump off point. I think explicitly teaching accountable talk can be so powerful. Getting the stems in front of them, that academic language that we’re asking of these students to be the center of our teaching, really putting it on the walls, on the desk mats, having them write it in their journals.

The teacher really can set the stage for discourse in the class and let the kids run with it. Also I think that modeling speaking to writing is really powerful, whether it be the teacher modeling it or a more proficient English speaker and writer, but modeling that speaking to writing moment or that thinking to writing moment is really powerful and I think these are all things that can happen in that tier one gen ed setting and just having a very Loud, busy room full of discourse is the place to start.

[00:05:55] Mandi Morris: Jamie, you mentioned. Oh, go ahead, Jen. No,

[00:05:58] Jen Albury: I, I just want to build off of what she what Jamie was able to bring forward around playing with language. I think that’s, we have to keep joy in whatever we’re teaching. And I think a lot of times when teachers want to structure those conversations and structure the environment and they’re afraid of the noise and what if somebody comes in and hears chaos and I said to them, Productive chaos.

Is good. Productive and strategic is are the key words and that being for kids. And I just I was really glad that you added play to that part of the conversation because language is dynamic and language should be built off of each other and making that meaning and that is the oracy that is the productive piece of tier one and it’s a huge scaffold.

It is how we are the backseat driver in classrooms, rather than saying, hey, finish this thought finish this sentence, right? What would you say? And what would you build an honoring student voice and honoring student Repertoires as well is really important because we know that our kids can go between all of their languages and all of their linguistic abilities to build the content knowledge and also the linguistic knowledge.

So just structuring that through scaffolding is a huge piece of it.

[00:07:15] Mandi Morris: Jamie, you mentioned the, that state language assessment feeling of talking into a computer. We’re going to push out a poll. What are your feelings about state language assessment? Like, when you, when we’re here talking about this today, we’re talking about state language assessment.

Where do you fall in this? I’m ready for it. neutral, I don’t love it, I don’t hate it, or you just feel stressed. We all know we’re entering into state language assessment season, right? For most of us it’s going to be after winter break. But what are the, what’s the feeling, right? What’s the anxiety around that?

How are you feeling in that space right now? So that poll is going out right now. Please, it, submit your answers and we’ll see how everybody’s feeling about that. And We know too state language assessment is the opposite of feeling playful with productive language, right? It is really the total opposite of that.

But something that you guys both talk about is that when students are really empowered, when they’re able to play with the language and they can make it their own, and that in turn does impact how students can show up for a state language assessment, because when they can own that language and they can manipulate that language, then they can really use it for their own purposes, purposefully, right?

Okay, 60 percent are neutral. That surprises me. Okay, and 20 percent are ready for it and 20 percent feel stress around it. I was expecting to see more people feeling stress around it. That neutral space. I appreciate that you’re showing up with a growth mindset. To talk about state language assessments and you’re ready to be like, you know what, I’m not going to go into this season with any of my my past biases.

I’m here to learn. So I appreciate that. Okay, we’re going to move on to the second question. Let’s see when you are reflecting on speaking scores. So you’re thinking about your state language assessment. We get that data back. When you are in reflection of speaking scores, how do you address productive language in tier one?

What does that look like for you as directors in your school districts?

[00:09:16] Jen Albury: I Can kick us off with some thought around that and like building off of what we just spoke about with strategic inclusion of oral language. It also needs to be strategic conversations around data, right? And that’s built into school culture, classroom culture, team culture, we have a lot of opportunities for co teaching and we have a lot of Kind of like a whole school commitments, right?

And we have to ground those within all data and building into Oral or looking at the state assessments, looking at the domain specific, where are we and how are we using that data to fuel our conversations around what needs to happen into your 1? I think 1 of the biggest struggles and LD is or ESL.

However, your state is referring. Is that we have language teachers, and then we have content teachers, but we all know that language has to be through content. So I think a lot of that is the fusion of how we’re coming together to use the data to inform what we’re committing to as a team, rather than looking at data in one piece, or only one teacher looking at it and being the owner of that and holding that and doing a reteach.

Over here for some where as we can look at trends and we can find where those domains support the trends of what students are showing linguistically and through their skills and content knowledge, what they need supported because we can’t separate those two anymore.

[00:10:48] Jayme Croff: Then I like what you said about like ownership and how we look at it collectively and collaboratively.

I think it’s interesting we don’t want to teach this language test, but also I find it powerful to bring it to the forefront for teachers because sometimes they get in their content, they might be thinking of their state assessment, when I was a third grade teacher, I was thinking about that SBA test coming up, bringing the, we use WIDA in Washington but bringing that language test And what is being asked of the students to the content area teacher can be a really powerful tool because we’ll say, Oh, they have to compare and contrast two images.

And that’s one of the language standards is to be able to use comparative language. Excuse me, I’ve got the fall bug. So when we have opportunities to sit with the teachers and say, here’s an example, here’s two pictures that are alike and different. And the kids have to analyze that verbally. And sometimes the teachers have that light bulb go off and say, oh, Wait, I have a compare and contrast unit in my literacy curriculum.

That’s unit five. I’m gonna actually bring in some visuals like that, and I’m gonna formatively assess in my class, who’s doing what with the speaking? How are they asking questions about a picture? How do they debate a picture? How do they compare a picture? Really bringing it to life in tier one, because sometimes we think of Assessing a student on, a summative test or how do they do on that worksheet?

How do they do on their homework? But really, we have to be constantly assessing their speaking and listening skills too. And so allowing those moments to happen in the gen ed classroom is really what informs those trends that we’re

[00:12:25] Mandi Morris: looking at. Yeah, Jamie, I think that really leans into the formative moments in your classroom, and we know that there are a lot of different types of assessment, right?

We have our benchmark data, we have our state language, like that summative at the end of the year data, we’ve got our summative. per unit or per quarter or trimester. But that formative piece is so powerful as ELD specialists or as language specialists. And going back to what you were talking about with the ownership, it’s all teachers owning that formative space that we’re checking in with our students and we’re making moves, instructional moves and support moves that are In the moment on the spot, but are also impacting how we think about planning our instruction and delivering our instruction is really powerful.

And I love that you’re highlighting that formative piece, Jen. Is there anything you could add about that formative piece? And what does that look like for your teachers for your school district? And it might look different in secondary versus elementary event. Yeah, I think that’s a huge piece

[00:13:25] Jen Albury: that we’re working on.

Towards doing a more collective responsibility around the formative, because I do think when we talk about assessment, our minds go straight to summative, like you’re saying that Mandy, but what is most important is that assessment is a tool of learning students should be taking away a lesson from it, whether it’s a literacy around technology, a literacy of the test or a practice building stamina and teachers also get the information from it as well.

So yeah. One of the bigger things that we’re working on is identifying that productive struggle. And in the co-taught classroom that looks like from what the stan the standard is, or from what the lesson task is and linguistically where the heaviest language lift is. It is a lot to do with.

Prep time, establishing that time to just committing to say, okay, this is where the heaviest lift is going to be. And I’m going to make sure that not only am I getting a gauge of how my students are reacting in this struggle, but also that they’re receiving feedback on next steps, right? Because I think that’s the piece that a lot of times.

Assessment becomes cumbersome to both teachers and students is when it’s not as productive as it should be. So I think with our shift around formative assessments and focusing this year in our district around formatives with oral language, because we’ve recognized we haven’t given students an opportunity to normalize speaking into the microphone or normalize the pressure of having to come up with only one thing to say in response to one specific question With specific language uses, right?

Like we’re, we need to give students more opportunities to feel comfortable in that. So we’re using that as our formative opportunity. We’re centering time in any classroom, whether it’s ELD or in an inclusion classroom to answer questions that we already would be working on. We would already be observing.

Through oral language and using that as our formative because then it’s getting to more of our objectives at once. And I think there’s challenges in that, but even if it is challenging, it is so productive for students and students, long term ELLs, or how I prefer to say it, like experienced multilinguals in high school who have taken our state assessment in Massachusetts, also Rita state.

They’ve taken access 12 times. This so far and they, and I remember as a junior in high school, she came to me and she said, miss, I had no idea that this was what they were looking for. And I was like I completely understand because if we’re not formatively giving you the feedback on all the aspects of what you’re being demanded to do, it’s not equitable.

So it’s an investment in that in that monitoring system, for sure.

[00:16:15] Mandi Morris: Absolutely, and a lot of times students are in their classes throughout the day, they are practicing language that they need to use on state language assessments. They are practicing with prompts that they need and will see on state language assessments.

But Jamie, going back to what you said earlier, it’s like the teacher’s having those light bulb moments of, oh, that’s a task type for the state language assessment. That’s in unit five. Maybe that teacher was skipping it because they, we all know when we get our textbooks we cut out pieces because you don’t have time to do everything.

So it’s highlighting, these are task types, these are prompts that students need to practice, they need to be exposed because they need to make the connection in their brain that this language I learned in isolation and this type of prompt that I learned in isolation, these things need to be connected so that I can show what I know.

When I arrived at that state language assessment, Jamie, was there something else you wanted to add to that?

[00:17:12] Jayme Croff: I think Jen said it really well. It’s about the formative pieces and letting the kids be a part of it. Let them do some goal setting. We’re really looking, I wrote down while you were talking Jen, formative speaking assessments.

I did that as a classroom teacher, but I’m like, how can I bring that back district wide to bring that into the Gen Ed Tier 1 setting? I think that’s a really good idea. Maybe and really having it be led by the students, they can reflect on that, like, how can they practice recording themselves and just listening to themselves talk?

As adults, we hate listening to ourselves. I’m sure I’ll rewatch this webinar and be like, Oh, my voice, but getting the kids used to that, we have technology at our fingertips. We have the tools getting kids to practice goal setting and understanding what’s being asked of them, I think is key.

[00:17:57] Mandi Morris: Absolutely. And I have to do a quick shout out for Flashlight 360 because I think we do an awesome job just doing this progress monitoring piece and I know as an educator and, it’s, this is so powerful and we sometimes don’t have the tools. That’s my little plug because I, Believe in this formative assessment.

I believe in this productive practice. And a note from Dr Martinez. Thank you for participating in the chat and continue to I also find assessment for learning to be so important in preparing for assessment of learning like standardized tests. So thank you, Dr Martinez. I really appreciate that.

Just that practice piece that we’re talking about making the connections for students. And also that when students show up for those state language assessments that it isn’t it doesn’t feel so high stakes for them in the sense that they’ve been doing that practicing. They’ve been making the connections so they can really show up in that space and show what they know because they’re prepared, right?

Okay, we’re going to move on to the next question. Jamie, this one’s going to come to you first. How can you address the opportunity cost when students don’t exit ELD? English Language Development, and you might have a different acronym for that in your state, but when students don’t exit ELD, how can you address the opportunity cost?

[00:19:15] Jayme Croff: It’s huge. I love how Jen rewords long termers. There are experienced multilingual kids because if you actually dive into what these kids can do, they are bilingual or multilingual and they have such gifts. And it’s really tough to understand that and watch them get into secondary, middle school, high school, and they haven’t technically exited.

So they have this label. And. Depending on your service model that can really hinder a student, a high school kid that has to take X, Y and Z classes, similar to a student on an IEP or receiving special education services. If we have to place them in the classes they’re missing out on valuable electives and what the research shows and what we just know is that students benefit from a wide range of experiences, especially in high school, and so that is an opportunity cost.

I’m in an interesting situation because I have in this district a low number of ELs at the high school level. And with that means not a lot of people. I don’t have a lot of staff to support. Classes constantly at the high school level. Which is a blessing in disguise because that means that the students are not receiving all these additional extra classes.

So the model that we have to try to solve this problem is we hold a couple of periods at each of our high schools. And that’s also by design. We don’t want it to just be one period because that one period might specifically take a child out of an elective collection that they can’t take at a different period.

And so on. So we have two periods that are offered at each school and these are reserved for our newcomers and our emerging learners. These are the kids that really need that boost of English to access the content. And it’s a multi prong approach where we’re really giving them that. Survival language, getting them that first boost of English, but also we’re giving them support in their content area classes.

And then, really, what the dream is, and I’m sure everyone listening has this dream of moving toward the Tier 1 model for our multilingual learners. Going Toward collaboration and co planning to scaffold the content area learning for these students, but that takes a lot of time and a lot of PD and it’s a paradigm shift and it’s a belief system shift.

So that’s what we’re moving toward. We really don’t want these kids to miss out on all the trappings of a high school experience and putting them into this. This lane that they might not otherwise be in if they weren’t exiting this test is really detrimental for them. So trying to get creative with resources trying to think outside the box for these kids and looking at them as individuals, not, oh, they have this qualification, so they have to be in these classes.

I think being mindful about it is the way out of it.

[00:22:11] Jen Albury: It’s interesting, Jamie, because we’re actually in the opposite, right? We have a very high concentration of experienced multilinguals and that really speaks to the presence of academic language within Tier 1, right? Which is hard because that’s the entire, that’s the whole day.

That’s the whole school district, right? That’s everything. However I really appreciate what you said about by design. I think it’s really important And. Scheduling having conversations around equity with those who are making schedules, because at least I’m in a high incidence district, and we have two high schools, one is vocational and one is our larger campus and at the larger campus, they actually begin building their schedule before access.

comes out because just of the timing, right? So I have to make sure that I get in to that conversation and I sit at the table and I say, slow down because we can’t make uninformed decisions and we have to have those cost conversations. If a kiddo loves and their island of competence, right? They come to school for music class.

We’re going to make an individualized schedule in here, we are not going to let anyone miss out on what they’re passionate about in kindergarten or in 12th grade, but it’s especially hard at that at the higher grade level just because they have so many more choices and there’s so many more kiddos. And I really appreciate just the thinking about the label for older students.

Also, students are much more aware. If we talk to a second grader about who their ESL teacher is many times students don’t know, right? But if you are in 11th grade and you’re getting ready to become an adult and you’re super aware of what is happening around you, that’s also a critical conversation that we should be having with students talking about, but also empowering them.

As experienced multilinguals to discuss what they feel would be helpful to support their next steps. And maybe that is a scheduling question, right? Maybe that is an access to specific things a motivational engagement conversation lots of times that’s at the root of what is holding back that, that level three to four, at least in WIDA world, right?

And I just wanted to. It’s just say how much I value those conversations, but it has to be like you have to go in and you have to do the work because if you if we’re not having those conversations, then the schedule is just going to fall as it needs to. And that’s where we give more to our L’s.

That’s where equality versus equity comes in. It’s a commitment and it’s disruptive, but it has to

[00:25:03] Mandi Morris: happen and going back to the paradigm shifts and the just philosophy shifts around the way that we do things and it is really hard just in real life. It is hard when you have built out schedules and anybody who has watched a counselor build a master schedule in high school or an AP, whoever is doing that work.

It’s usually a team of people doing that work in high school. It is. Incredible. The work that goes into building a master’s schedule in high school. And when you’re doing all that work in April and May, and then you have to come back in August or September, depending on where you are nationally, and your school year starts, and you’ve got to redo that schedule for students.

It’s tough, right? I think we have to come with empathy for the people that we work for and understanding that we’re all showing up to do the best that we can, and the student is at the center of what we’re doing, always has to be at the center of the conversation and it might be uncomfortable for the adults in the room, it might be more work for the adults in the room, but at the end of the day, we have to show up in that space.

Base with the student at the center of the conversation. And it is tough. It’s, the scheduling piece is really tough for high school students. I feel like in high school you see the impact of that. I noticed in middle school, I taught middle school for years. Middle school students are also very, that’s that’s self awareness, of, they’re very aware that they’re in ELD.

Pull out at that age. And then in high school we really see the loss of electives or the loss of opportunities for students to think about what is life after high school for college and career readiness. And I think that is such a detriment to our students. And the, we have the ownership as the adults of getting creative figuring out how to problem solve around that.

And then this all kind of ties back into the tier one instruction. How do we get creative around that? And I’m just going to open up the space Jamie, Jen, what else is on your mind right now? We think state language assessment. We’ve talked about tier one instruction. We’ve talked about owning that data across the district, having systems in place in our buildings.

What does it look like for a secondary student that doesn’t meet proficiency on a state language assessment versus a second grader? It does. have different impact on, on self awareness and self esteem. What else is on your mind in this space right now?

A lot.

[00:27:27] Jen Albury: No,

[00:27:27] Mandi Morris: but

[00:27:30] Jayme Croff: I want to talk about I think right now going into, it sounds weird to say going into assessment season and being November, but I’m already thinking a lot about that. And I think There’s been so much learning in the multilingual universe around co planning, collaborative teaching practices, things like that.

But if we’re not training our teachers in it, it’s people that are in our department going in and saying, hey, let’s co plan this lesson or let’s co plan this unit together. And they’re like, oh, what? What does this mean you’re the English teacher you pull them or you tell me what to do. And so having this like collaborative moment I’m at this place where I’m thinking, what’s that next level, how do we get engagement from teachers to come alongside in these co planning moments because everything we talked about today.

Circles back to content, tier one even when we’re talking about data, we’re talking about bringing it into a shared conversation. How do we get more of the ownership shared? And how do we make it so anybody in our multilingual departments are viewed as collaborators rather than the owners? Sometimes we, we still get asked questions about how to grade them, things like that.

So how do we shift that conversation? So I’m always thinking about with the assessments coming up. How do we involve the teachers? How do we involve the buildings? And making it more of a collaborative

[00:28:55] Mandi Morris: approach. And that’s

[00:28:59] Jen Albury: super important, right? Because it’s something we can’t evade. I also, Mandy was very surprised by the neutrality of the feedback because my answer was stress.

But that’s only, I think it also, it’s about your approach, right? And it’s also the vibes that you’re bringing to your students. So I would say that’s a very good thing that we are not all stressed out. But I think that, The actual preparation of okay, what do you do with your state assessments that are like your non language based assessments?

How is that exactly the way that your linguist or your language based test is? What I usually pull forward as in our state, the kind of accommodations list are both for our state test and for our language test. They’re on the same document. So when I bring that and I say Okay. These are actually at the same level.

It’s just not all the same students that have to participate in all, right? So that’s a conversation. However, I think another conversation to have as we prep like goals for the year, vision, mission, what we’re saying every day, who are we representing in those conversations and looking at that subgroup data as like a very important grounding piece.

of our database conversations as formatives into the summative. If I can add on what I’m, what’s on my mind, I think it’s partly that, Jamie. I think it’s partly like, how am I getting ahead of this conversation and not waiting for results, right? Like, how am I prepping teachers? And the prep goes right to professional development for me, because I teach teacher preparation courses at the master level, and what I can say as a participant in those same courses was they didn’t necessarily make me, I didn’t walk into the classroom with my toolkit, right?

I wasn’t like, hey, I know about this. I know my theory, but I didn’t know my practice in the same way that you learn it through experience, right? So Mandy, I’m always appreciative of you because you’re positive and you were like, nope, we got to give people the benefit of the doubt as well and have empathy for our co, for our colleagues, right?

Our collaborators. And so it’s about cross content, anything that we’re doing. If we’re looking at language arts, we’re also looking at the language of language arts. If we’re looking at science, where are we in this, like embedding everything we do rather to be a separate program or a separate department, even we’re collaborating on everything.

I am not running my own professional development this year. I am in everybody else’s and that’s exhausting, right? However, if you’re strategic about it, then your teachers can be strategic about it. And I also know that when we make this a routine and when we learn from each other, because. I, as an ELD teacher, needed to learn more about my STEED standards.

I was prepared with language, but I was not prepared with what my seventh grade students needed to know in math, right? So I think the more we can be empathetic in the same room talking about here’s where my vision is, and here’s where your vision is, and how do those two live together and do more conversations, one child and all the things they see in a day, having that lens in professional development, I think Is where the goal is that because then as like a collaborative cycle, right assessment will fall into that and the shared ownership will be organic.

But even more importantly, the instructional piece will be stronger. I love

[00:32:32] Mandi Morris: I love this conversation and it’s so much fun and we could probably and everybody who’s here with us talk about this all day long. It’s. I love hearing the way that you guys are thinking about it. And just to tie it into why we’re here today, we’re here to talk about state language assessment, right?

And, but what are we talking about a lot of? Tier 1 instruction. And that’s purposeful. That’s by design for our time together today because We want to model that we aren’t doing things in isolation. So it doesn’t exist to have a state language assessment in, January, February, March, whenever yours comes up.

And the week before, but, oh my gosh, I have to get my kids ready for the state language assessment. Now there are like practical things you have to do to get ready, right? Like you need to reserve the space. You need to make sure your computers are. working and you have headsets and all of the things, right?

You need to know that students can use paper to prep for their speaking section on the state language assessment. There are pieces like that yes, you have to do to prep. But when we are really thinking about students owning language to being able to produce content, discipline, rich language in response to a prompt on task, because as you mentioned earlier, Jen, they’ve got that question.

And they’ve got to respond to that question. And if they’re talking about something out over here, that has nothing to do with the prompt, they’re not being scored on that task, right? Students have to have the practice throughout the school year, and what does that look like? It happens in Tier 1 instruction and it, again, it’s It takes time, it takes coaching, it takes collaboration, and it takes willing partners.

So it’s finding those willing partners and finding opportunities to co plan, to collaborate around instruction so that our students are practicing that language all throughout their day and they are prepared when they show up for that state language assessment. Something that you guys have both talked about that I would love to lean into a little bit more is Like the culture in a building.

So what does it look like when we have structure around? Learning objectives and language objectives in every classroom. What does it look like when we have expectations for student talk in every classroom? And what is the culture like right now? Like just being real, what is the culture like right now for you?

Where are challenges, but opportunities for growth too?

[00:34:58] Jen Albury: I’ll kick us off with one thing that I did want to bring up. that I don’t think I’ve said yet, but one of the, one of the pieces of data that we’ve been talking a lot about to get that culture is student data, like student qualitative response. So after our state test, which is access, we give a survey to students starting last year.

So it’s not that revolutionary. It’s the second year we’re doing it, but We gave them a survey and I said, and I asked them, how did you feel like your peers supported you? How did you feel like another teacher supported you? How did you feel like you’re using? Can we ask the students their opinions, right?

For that data, because data doesn’t lie. So data can be interpreted differently. But when we have an open conversation with all stakeholders on that, that’s really important for student voice to be at the center of the table. And I will say in response specifically to your question, Mandy, about like, how is everything going?

Teacher shortage right now is something that we cannot avoid and we cannot get around. So it goes also with our answer. And what Jamie was saying was just ensuring that we are being really strategic by design and what we can do, focusing on what we can do and making sure we’re taking the opportunities to think out of the box because it’s not a normal school year, at least for us right now and where we are.

Like we had this whole vision of co teaching and inclusion and it was going to It would be wonderful. We were going to be teaming and we added positions to our department and we got the funding and we did the advocacy. And of course, it’s a teacher shortage nationwide, right? I have to maintain that positivity and saying, okay, so this was the main goal.

That was the great. Where’s the good, right? What can we do that’s good to not stand in the way because we’re not gonna throw it all away, right? We’re not gonna lean back on it. These are our commitments. I just, I wanted to add to Jamie and say, it, it’s a lot. Right now, however, priorit prioritizing is the number one thing we can do.

And making sure that we’re prioritizing based off of who we serve. Not with our agenda or other teachers agendas or the district’s agenda. It’s like asking the students directly, however we collect that, to make sure that what we’re doing is moving aligned to what they feel that they need.

Yeah, Jamie,

[00:37:28] Mandi Morris: anything to add? Yeah,

[00:37:30] Jayme Croff: I see Caitlin wrote, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. That is so true. I’m living in that too. When you talk about, Learning and language objectives and what it’s like in the buildings. Our district has had a big initiative around learning objectives in every classroom for every content.

And we’ve been doing a lot of learning walks as administrators going from building to building classroom to classroom, just checking in and really seeing we went from. Most of the classrooms not having them even posted. And then this fall we’ve went around and in one building in particular, I remember walking in every single classroom that I saw had them posted, but then the next layer is, do the kids know what’s expected of them and do they understand in my brain?

I’m thinking, do they understand the language load that it’s going to take to get to that understanding? Whether it’s receptive or expressive, does the teacher and the student understand what that language target is too, right? And some. It’s not the perfect, but it’s good. Some classrooms are different from others.

There’s a lot of variability. Anytime you get out of the classroom and you zoom out and look at a whole district, the first lesson is nobody does it like me. We’re getting into these classrooms and seeing some of these kids, I was talking to a first grader last week that said, I know that right now I need to be learning about the TH.

sound. And I need to know that because a lot of our words start with that. And I was like, good job, so that’s like the level we want. We want the kids owning it. We want kids to be able to talk to a random person walking into the classroom about it, and we’re working toward that. But thinking from like my view is sometimes I have to take off.

My ML coordinator hat and put on just an instructional leader. How and how are we going to work together as building leaders and getting in with the teachers to get to the point where we’re getting closer to good closer to perfect. Keep inching forward. It’s going to take time, but I think really getting To have the conversations with the leaders is really powerful to say, Hey, what do you think that kid was thinking about when the teacher said what the lesson objective was today, things like that, moving the needle inch by inch on that.

[00:39:43] Mandi Morris: Absolutely. Thank you both for being here. This conversation has been so wonderful today. We covered a lot of ground and we talked about a lot of different ways that students are prepared throughout the school year for state language assessment and also just being real about these are struggles that we see in our school districts and you know y’all are on different sides of the country if you have the same state language assessment which is so cool but also really different.

school districts as terms like the makeup of your school districts and the size of your school districts. And we know like some states are really struggling with teacher shortages and some aren’t feeling it as much. So it’s a really interesting makeup and it impacts our thinking around programming.

It impacts the way that we think about how can we support our students and ensure that they are prepared to show what they know on state language assessments and just really be learning language all throughout the day.


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