Assessment Organization

Do I dare tackle this topic for Blog Hoppin's Day 5 of the 2014 New Year Linky?

I wouldn't say it is my strongest area. I do it, but I don't love it. What do I dislike even more than organizing?

That would be assessments.

I get it. They are important and I do like having the results to help guide my instruction, create reading groups, etc etc.... but the bottom line is that I just don't like doing them - especially with 29 kids.

It eats up so much of my teaching time.... and outside prep time to organize and deal with all of it.

But this year I am trying something new. By "this year" I mean this school year.... so for the past four months I have been using ESGI to administer {most of} my assessments.

I didn't want to blog about it until I had really given it a go....

And so now here is what I have to report.

ESGI makes assessing a lot faster. A lot! You know when you have a kid come sit at your table and you have to find their tab in the assessment binder and then the right page and have the correct color pen and then the book or reference page and guess what.... all of that time wasting is gone.

I know...that doesn't seem like that much time. I actually didn't think it would save me as much time as it has.

Or what about when you have all but one of your little ones assessments done and somehow you have lost one? Maybe that doesn't happen to you... but it does to me. And then later I will find it in a pile of snowman artwork or something random.... that doesn't happen anymore because everything is from my poor organizational tendencies!

Basically you call a child over to the computer or iPad or whatever device you have with internet. If I am doing letter sounds for example, the screen will look like this...

It is so clear which letter we are talking about.... have you ever pointed to a letter on a poster and the kid is trying to scoot your finger to see the letter on the line above... and you are like.... NO, this letter here... now with another finger trying to point out which one you mean?

The child's name is hidden under that green rectangle, below it says the name of the assessment "lowercase sounds" {in other words you can do uppercase sounds or lowercase letter names} Obviously on this screen the child should tell me /g/ and then I either click on the Y or the N at the bottom to indicate whether or not they know the sound. In very tiny white letters is the prompt, not really needed, that says "What sound does this letter make?" And the fraction 1/11 is telling me we are on question 1 of 11. This means that this child knows all, but 11 sounds already.

I can see a summary page like this:
There are notes I can generate {in English and Spanish} for parents that will give them the data shown above and even more. I can also print out flash cards to send home. ESGI knows exactly which letters, words or numbers to print as flash cards for each kid so it is 100% personalized for them.

The above picture is just for assessments that fall under "pre-reading." I am currently using ESGI for 5 assessments:
-uppercase letter names
-lowercase letter names
-letter sounds
-sight words
-number recognition

That is me easing into it... like I told you... it's new to me too. It has so many other ones available. In fact, there is a phonemic awareness one that may be next on my list to try!

And of course, I can make my own assessments too.  I made my own assessment for sight words. They have one built in, but I wanted to make sure I was using the exact same words as are on my school district's assessment.

And I am considering making my own for lower case letters. Do you notice in the picture above that it says 28/28 for lower case letters? That is because they add the computer version of a and g..... which is a great idea and to be honest, I have learned a few of my friends don't know those. But my district doesn't assess that. I left it as is because I thought it causes no harm, but it was a tad annoying when a child received 26 or 27/28 I had to check the assessment itself to see what letter was missing because my report card just wants to know if they have 26/26. So they may have gotten 27/28, but have the 26 needed according to my district. Does that make sense? So nothing wrong with it... but when you see little things like that they don't work perfectly for you, you can make your own to fit your needs exactly right.

At first I thought...what about those little notes I would make while assessing. Things like "confuses b and d" or "pauses for long time before responding." Well, I decided that I never really used those notes later and I still make notes during small group reading time that serve this same purpose and those I actually do refer to and use. So losing those minimal assessment notes is nothing compared to what I have gained using this program.

For example, I LOVE how you can quickly see data and make reports. For example, I can tell you that the least known number in my class is 21 and the least known letter is q. How could I have possibly compiled that before?

I used to make little bar graphs of how many letter names and sounds the kids know and of their reading levels... but that took me for-eva to gather the info and put it into Excel on my own. I no longer have to do that.

I will say that ESGI is easy to use just in case you don't love technology. You can use it too. I contacted their support team twice to ask questions and they got back to me almost immediately with the answers.

On one hand it may make sense for you to start using ESGI at the start of the school year... but they offer a 60 day free trial... so you may want to test it out this school year for FREE and if  you like it then you can get that started "for real" in August or September.

ESGI costs $199 for a whole year, but if you are new to ESGI and use the promo code B7722 then you can try it for $159!

If you click the image below you can watch some videos of teachers using the program to make it make more sense for you.

My goal is to continue easing my way into ESGI so that next year I am using it to its fullest potential.

Stop by Blog Hoppin for some other ideas to get you organized in 2014! I'm headed there now myself!


  1. Christy,

    I am SO glad you blogged about this! I've seen other people discuss ESGI and I even signed up but hadn't began using it... now I'm thinking I really should! I love how easy it sounds and I LOVE how you can compile class data (least known number/letter/etc.) Thanks so much! I'm going to go play with it right now!

    Mrs. Thompson
    Adventures in Teaching (A First Grade Blog)
    My TpT Store

  2. I too started using ESGI this year and I love it. In fact, I just created my own assessment for the first time and it made giving the benchmark so much quicker. Plus, having the results compiled instantly...well what could be better or easier. The more you use it the more your going to love it.

    Luv My Kinders