TSR Connect

September 2020

relevant research

Getting Started during Challenging Times Using TSR Online

It has been a difficult spring and summer and we know you face continued challenges at the start of this school year. Many are starting school remotely and for in-person schooling there will be new rules and protocols in place to protect the health and safety of teachers and students. Teachers will need to teach and encourage preventive behaviors at school such as frequent hand washing and social distancing. Families will also need to impress these concepts and model these behaviors at home. Families will need to talk to their children about the changes they can expect at school. Even if the school year starts in person, there are possibilities that a campus may have to close and convert to remote at-home learning. The CDC has provided an extensive checklist for families to help plan for returning to school and in-person instruction.

CDC Checklist: Planning for In-Person Classes

One of the items on the checklist describes being a role model for practicing self-care. The below are important for teachers as well, as this school year will have many additional challenges particularly to one’s emotional well-being.

  • Take breaks
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Stay socially connected

In typical school years, summer slide or summer slowdown can range from 2-3 months to only several weeks depending on the grade level and learning domain. Children from at-risk families, due to lower income or other factors, may show even greater gaps.

The faucet theory (Entwisle et al., 2000) explains that “the ‘resource faucet’ is on for all students during the school year, enabling all students to make learning gains. Over the summer, however, the flow of resources slows for students from disadvantaged backgrounds but not for students from advantaged backgrounds. Higher-income students tend to continue to have access to financial and human capital resources (such as parental education) over the summer, thereby facilitating learning (Borman et al., 2005).”

The effects of the extended loss of opportunity to learn and the social and emotional toll the pandemic has had on schoolchildren exacerbates any normal summer slide.


Many of our youngest students will start out academically behind this school year. In order to support all students with instruction that is just right for their current understandings in language, literacy, STEM and other domains, it will be critically important to obtain accurate assessment data to determine a starting place for instruction.

Reliable formative data is used to determine appropriate instructional planning that best targets student needs.

Assessments should produce data that is useful and needful. That is, assessments should be tied to decision making about use of the data collected and what instruction or intervention will promote the child’s continued progress.

CLI Engage offers progress monitoring assessments for pre-k through 2nd grade. These assessments are designed to be brief administrations that yield efficient yet reliable results that prompt teachers to interventions for targeting the student’s least developed skills.

Assessments and the data from them are vital tools for understanding and improving student performance. In the classroom, teachers regularly use assessment data to check for student progress, identify areas of strength and weakness, and measure learning gains or gaps. This feedback loop allows teachers to adjust and differentiate instruction, as needed, to help students move forward in their learning.

CLI Engage has created full guidance on assessing students remotely if necessary. Gathering the data remotely presents special challenges, and there are a few adaptations and modifications that may be necessary to administer virtually.

Young student learning remotely

Two-Way Communication

Parents may be intimidated themselves by the concept of assessment from their own childhood experiences. In addition, you will now be asking them to participate in helping you assess their child. The word test can sometimes drum up negative feelings for adults. Help put them at ease by explaining the difference. Testing is done to determine a specific level of learning a student has achieved and usually has a numerical or letter grade assigned. Assessments on the other hand, are used to gather information on the student’s proficiency in specific skill areas to develop a plan for instructional needs.

Progress monitoring is a practice that is used to get a snapshot of the students’ academic understanding and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction.

It is important to get information on what their child knows when the assessment is delivered. The family role in support of the assessment delivery is to help their child stay on task if they are losing interest, easily distracted, or exhibiting frustration; ensure prompts are audible; and engage with the teacher as needed when special instructions are provided.

Parents need to know that during assessment the teacher and the family member should be equally positive and encouraging with both correct and incorrect responses. While administering the assessment, the parent should not provide hints, clues or other feedback about correct responses. The rule is to praise effort, not correct responses. Students should complete the assessment time with their teacher and at home learning partner feeling good about their performance.

Families may not be aware that teachers design instruction around what they have obtained from assessment. In the remote assessment and teaching cycle, teachers can best support the child's learning at home by knowing exactly what the child needs to learn. Let the family know the purpose and value of assessing is so you can teach their student new skills and not teach what they already know. Then you can help them in spots where they need more practice and understanding.

Assessment results will provide useful data for the teacher to begin planning, particularly if planning for at-home learning that may involve the family. It will then be even more important that both teacher and family are openly communicating and sharing observations as well as assessment data results on the student’s skill proficiencies.

Mother helping daughter with tablet


Borman G. D., Benson J., Overman L. T. (2005). Families, schools, and summer learning. The Elementary School Journal, 106(2), 131–150. http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/499195

Entwisle D. R., Alexander K. L., Olson L. S. (2000). Summer learning and home environment. In Kahlenberg R. D. (Ed.), A notion at risk: Preserving public education as an engine for social mobility (pp. 9–30). New York, NY: Century Foundation Press

teaching tips

Whatever your situation, these CDC checklists are intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers, plan and prepare for the upcoming school year.

As students return to school this fall, many of them will be starting the academic year with achievement levels lower than where they were at the beginning of summer break.

High quality early learning programs use data to drive decision making with help from research-based tools that track progress in specific child and teacher skills. CLI strongly recommends the use of assessment data to help early childhood teachers understand student skill levels and individualize instruction to support areas in which students are at-risk for falling significantly behind.

The Family Engagement tools on CLI Engage offers many resources for communicating with families about understanding and tracking their child’s development. This is a great reference for ideas on communicating data in a family friendly way.

recommended resources

Children's Learning Institute Website

CLI Engage Website

Texas School Ready Website

Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS)


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