Task list that represents a paper process that teachers used to follow to plan standards-based goals for students
Written by Laurie McDanel on August 2, 2019

Multiple Tiers of Instruction

How To Tap Into Your Most Valuable Resource

Many years ago, I had lunch with a wonderful educator and mentor, Arlene Sonday. We were discussing all the new products and tools that were being developed as a result of the National Reading Panel work and No Child Left Behind. I remember so clearly what Arlene said.

“For a teacher who knows what she’s doing, all she needs in her toolbox is paper and a pencil.”

There are a lot of discussions and debates going on right now about which assessments and programs to use next. We are moving from NCLB to ESSA, from single measures to multiple measures, from intervention to access for all. It’s a huge leap that requires new tools.

These tools are important and valuable but they are new and there is a learning curve. No matter what the new tools bring, there is one resource in our schools that is most valuable of all…our students and their work. As these new tools roll out, include authentic student work on standards-based assignments. Here’s why:

Whenever we are about to make these leaps into new programs, new initiatives, and new assessments, I think of Arlene. There is still something to be said for authentic student work and the paper and pencil learning that involves creative conversations. You don’t have to wait to have conversations about this most valuable resource. Looking at authentic student work on standards-based assignments will help you assess reality and build your bridge to the next step.


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