Assessing and Setting Student Goals

By Megan Power on January 8, 2010

It's a magical time of year. As I waved goodbye to my kindergartners in December 2009, I explained to them about this amazing thing that happens over winter break. It's called "winter break magic!" Students always come back from winter break changed in amazing ways. All of a sudden things have clicked for many students. Teachers are excited to see that students really understand the routines and expectations of the classroom. It's wonderful to see!

Of course, with all these changes teachers are busy assessing their students and determining goals and next steps. Even though our students are very young, I have them assist me in reflecting on their learning and coming up with new literacy and math goals. I really believe in involving students in the assessment and decision making process, as well as allowing them to play an active role in their learning. I've found a lot of success with this approach and have been pleasantly surprised how young students easily and eagerly fall into this role.


Currently, I am in the process of assessing my students on a variety of skills including letter sounds, running records, number recognition, and writing. After I collect this data, I will conference with each student. During our conference we will talk about what they are proud of learning. Then we will talk about what is hard for them in reading, writing, and math. Students will surprise you on how accurate they are! The conversation is very positive and encouraging as well as enlightening for the teacher. It always makes me smile when I hear a kindergartner talking about what they think they need to work on.

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During our discussion we determine a literacy and a math goal for the child to work on at school and at home. This goal gets written down on a form to be sent home. I talk with the child about how they could work on that skill and record these and several other ideas to assist parents. The children bring these forms home to get signed and have one copy returned for my files. There is a date on the form when the goal should be met. I make sure to reassess and continue the same routine with goal setting when the child meets the goal.

If you have not involved your students in the assessment and goal setting process, I encourage you to do so. Just being a part of the decision making process is very motivational for students – even at this age. Please write me to share what assessments you use at this time of year and how you get your students involved in their personal goal setting process. I hope to hear from you soon and Happy 2010!


Hi Megan,

I think that it is a great idea to involve students in the learning process. I love your idea of making them a part of the assessment process.

Thank you very much. It is very helpful to get them involved in their learning even from an early age. It is amazing how intunned with their learning they are! Thanks for your comment! Smiles, Megan

I am in the process of assessing handwriting, color and cutting skills. We made a take home book -"THE BEAR HAS A BROWN COAT. ________ HAS A _____ COAT". Each child has to color and cut out the brown bear. We then take a photo of each child in their coat. each child then has to glue the bear and their photo on the page- writing their own name and color of their coat on the blank lines. Every day a different child gets to take the book home to read with their family. There is always a lot of excitement anticipating who is next to bring home the book!

What a fun and positive way to assess your students in these areas. I am sure they are so proud and excited about their work. Thank you so much for sharing this great activity with us! Smiles, Megan

Hello Megan, I just come across this website and absolutely love the site as i've just started teaching and ideas as these come really helpful.

I have a question though, on assessing children, in this discussion, how do we question them without making them feel intimadated? what kind of question do we ask?

thank you for your time.

Thank you very much for your comment. I am glad you came across this website. Scholastic has a ton of amazing resources for teachers. This section where real teachers blog is very helpful for sharing ideas and strategies that work. I find that I am very open with my young students about their learning. It is always in a positive manner. I tell them to do the best they can and it is okay if they don't know something or can't do something yet. This is why I am checking them so I can help them learn. If students are struggling or below where I would want them to be I just talk with them about how we can practice the skill at school and at home. I have never had a child feel upset or intimidated with any assessments. They all understand that I am there to help and that they are responsible for their learning even at this young age. I think my students love that I am very honest and open about discussing their learning with them. It is amazing how children at this age know what areas they need to improve on. When you include their opinions in the goal setting it becomes a positive experience and students are excited and eager to work on those areas.

I hope this helps you out! Smiles, Megan

I also decided to see what my students had forgotten during their vacation. I was also amazed on how much they remembered. When I assess, I use a fast and easy form because I teach 3, 4 and 5 year old special need children. I see which colors, shapes, numbers, and what letters are in their own name they know. I see which parents have worked with their student and which one have not.

Thanks for sharing. I think January is such a telling time to see where our young students are. As you mentioned, you can tell who has been practicing over the break and who has not. Thanks again! Smiles, Megan

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