• News from the District  


    Dear Readers,

    We are pleased to provide you with this curriculum update as we navigate through this extremely complicated school year.  We have said it multiple times, but the world of public education has been turned on its head and we have had to find new and creative ways to reach students. One area that looks very different this year is student assessment, which will be the focus of this curriculum updateHow is Duxbury Public Schools assessing student learning in a hybrid learning environment?

    For as long as we can remember, we have been able to rely on students' daily presence in schools where we had control over when and how assessments are administered.  We have years of MCAS data, dating back all the way to 1998, and for the first time in 2020, mandated statewide testing was canceled.  We were recently notified by the state that MCAS testing will be different again in 2021.  The MCAS changes we can expect are as follows: a modified competency determination for students set to graduate in 2021; shortened MCAS testing time for students in grades 3-8 where students will only take a portion of the MCAS assessment in each subject; district accountability relief; and flexibility with scheduling the high school biology test.

    During a typical school year, teachers give students a combination of formative and summative assessments throughout the year to determine skill level, mastery of learning objectives, and proficiency of the state learning standards.  Formative assessments are ongoing and assist teachers with planning for future instruction for students based on strengths, weaknesses, and individual growth.  Formative assessments can be as formal as quizzes or as informal as on-the-spot “quick checks” or exit slips.  Summative assessments are a comparative performance of a group of students, usually given at the end of a unit or course to determine mastery of a set of uniform standards. The difference between formative and summative assessments can be confusing, but an easy way to remember it is to think of this visual:


    Furthermore, in schools, we also administer a wide variety of assessment types, and you may hear some of the assessment terminology mentioned below:  


    Assessment Type



    Given first to determine knowledge prior to teaching a new skill or concept


    May be used in the middle of a lesson or unit to check on student understanding before moving on to the next skill or concept.

    Interim or Benchmark

    Given across wider groups of students in order to compare results of specific grade-level standards. Examples include Academic Merit, iReady, STAR Reading/Math, AimsWeb {benchmark & progress monitoring}


    District common assessments are typically locally developed and given to students across grade levels or who may be taking the same course but with different teachers.  Results can be compared but are not norm-referenced.


    Given at the end of a unit or course to determine the success of mastery of skills


    Any test that requires groups of students to take the same test on the same questions with the same scoring criteria.  Examples include achievement tests such as MCAS, AP Exams, aptitude tests, school entrance exams, or psychological testing used for diagnostic purposes.


    Assessments that compare a person’s results to those of a norm group or representative sample.  Examples include iReady, STAR,  & MCAS


    These types of assessments compare an individual’s results to that of a predetermined standard, learning goal, or performance level. Examples include iReady, STAR,  & MCAS


    This year, we have continued to administer all of our typical assessment types, which has been challenging, but not impossible, with students in a hybrid or remote setting.  Teachers are finding creative ways to administer tests and monitor student progress even when students may not be present in the classroom.  In many ways, effective assessment drives instruction so that teachers can adjust their daily lessons to ensure student mastery of skills.

    It will be important for teachers and parents not to fall into the unproductive thinking that “the pandemic has caused our students to fall behind.”  All students across the country have experienced a year of interrupted academic learning despite the best efforts of parents and teachers.  There really is no measure of the life skills that our students have acquired over the same time period.  Resilience, patience, independence, time management, and the importance of kindness and helping your neighbor are skills that are invaluable and will benefit them for a lifetime.  When we return to normalcy, year-to-year comparisons will not be meaningful, instead, we will focus on filling in learning gaps, recoupment of missing prerequisite skills, and continued focus on our grade-level standards.  As a school district, we are committed to high standards and we will always take students from where they are at the beginning of a grade level or course, and guide them to maximum individual growth as they work through the assigned standards or entry points to those skills.



    Danielle Klingaman, Ed.D
    Assistant Superintendent of Schools
    Twitter @duxschools


    This page provides information relative to all aspects of curriculum and instruction in the Duxbury Public Schools.  Curriculum includes our local curriculum maps as well as references to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  Instruction outlines our current projects and initiatives as well as plans for meeting the needs of all students.  Our assessment work is extensive and includes both MCAS results as well as local measures.  The district's planning occurs at many levels all of which connect through the strategic, technology, and school improvement plans.  Duxbury's focus on professional development is continuous.  This page will highlight our recent and future efforts.