Mrs. Quick is a kindergarten teacher at Southern Bluffs Elementary School. She is spending a few days administering a new reading screener, called PALS, to all of her students.
"In this particular assessment, it might suggest to me that these children are ready for what I have to give them, and they're going to move along with my regular classroom instruction," said Quick. "It's also going to tell me where the gaps might lie."
The hope is that if teachers are able to figure out which students need early intervention the students will be more successful at meeting their end of the year reading goals.
"It's just another way for us to monitor that progress so it gives us a place to start," said Lisa Schreiner, principal of Southern Bluffs Elementary School. "As kids go through them, we have an opportunity to look back and say are we seeing growth because that's what we want is a growth model."
To develop this model, every kindergarten teacher in the La Crosse School District was trained in this new assessment at the beginning of the school year. And now they're screening our kids.
"All of us are feeling just a little bit anxious about making sure that we do it right and we do it well," said Quick. "And that the data that we get back from it is gonna help us in our teaching; help guide our instruction."
Which according to this veteran kindergarten teacher, has gotten much more rigorous for these students as classroom expectations have increased.
"In the past, maybe some letters and sounds, some rhyming, some beginning word awareness, and now we're really kind of expected to have some readers by the end of the kindergarten year," said Quick.
The screening includes six... potentially seven tests... in the area of literacy which take about five minutes each. Our kindergarteners will be tested on concepts such as letter recognition, beginning sound awareness, rhymes and spelling.
"I think our ultimate goal is to serve our students in the best way we can," said Schreiner. "So, to take them where they are at right now and be able to get them to where they need to be."
"I think that where ever your opinion might lie on too much testing or not enough testing, it's our new reality," said Quick. "I know the people that I work with and I know the people of this district will do what we're being asked to do and we'll do it well. Having said that, we always need to remember that our children are more than just a test score."