Allana Hemenway

Allana Hemenway, EdD, is the principal at Randolph Elementary School in Texas. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, in both the United States and Canada.

Assessing the Remote Learner

Shifting to remote learning over a weekend and then starting the fall semester remotely has been a challenge for many teachers.  Assessing those learners who do not always check in or regularly show evidence of their learning on the online platform may be an even greater challenge. 

Our campus, Randolph Elementary, faced the same challenges of campuses around us.  While many of our students stayed connected with their teachers and quickly adapted to their new Google Classroom, or See Saw other students almost disappeared.  Ensuring these students were learning and monitoring their learning became a priority as we continued to provide actual grades to parents and students.

While Rick DuFour told us “Effective instruction required both an expectation that all teachers use practices proven to have the greatest impact on student learning while simultaneously enabling teachers to infuse their own style and differentiate instruction for individual student needs?” (DuFour, 2015), but assessing student learning requires the same expectation from teachers and their flexibility to infuse their own style and differentiate for students. 

When students don’t show up to Zoom or submit evidence of their learning in their Google Classroom we still need to know if learning occurred.  Here are some of the ways teachers at Randolph Elementary assessed their learners:

  • Porch assessment meetings
    • Yes, teachers went and knocked on doors and then stood outside and met with students on their front porch.  This was very effective as there was some face to face time (while being 6 feet apart).  Students thought they were having a conversation about the work but the detective teacher was assessing.
  • Phone calls
    • Old school phone call communication.  Listening to a child read and then have them orally respond to questions still works!
  • Individual Zoom calls
    • Teachers displayed curriculum material and the child worked through the material and the child showed their work to the camera.
    • Some teachers sent their class set of little white boards with expo markers home with students as students seem to love writing on whiteboards compared to paper.
    • In addition, when Zooming was one on one with a teacher, some students were more willing to turn their cameras on.  Expert teachers can look at a child’s face and see success or frustration with learning.
  • Posting to a Stream
    • When students were face to face they may have a “ticket out the door” by having an answer on a post it note.  Instead, teachers asked students to post on the stream in their Learning Management System.

As principals, we have likely all said to our teachers to use their professional judgement when assigning a grade to a student. We ask the teacher what grade reflects the child’s current level of performance. The level of performance from 9 weeks ago is no longer as important as where they are now.  Teachers need to trust in their professional judgement and the current data they have on the student.  As leaders we need to listen to the data teachers have and support teachers who do have the data that a child is really performing at a much higher level than what the grade book might reflect.

DuFour, R. (2015) In Praise of American Educators. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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