Essay, 5 pages (1100 words)

Assessment paper

Interview Paper I interviewed Theresa D’Ambrosio. She works at Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School in Castaic, CA. She has served as a school counselor at SCVI for three years and an additional three years with the Castaic Unified School District. At SCVI, the role of testing is to determine what the needs of the students are, and to be able to effectively meet those needs. She does not do much testing. However, the testing she has done has to do with students transitioning from high school to college or seeking employment. Transitional assessments are given in order to determine what the students’ interests are and what they might like to do. Also, Needs Assessments are done to help guide her towards providing better and more effective programs. Usually this testing will determine what group or services might be needed at their school.
Needs Assessments are her favorite testing tool. It helps guide her all year long, and serves as a compass from which all programs are generated. Standardized testing, which is done each year, seems to bother her mainly because the students become stressed or overly anxious. They use the test results from their standardized testing to help indicate who is falling behind, and to cross check that with behavioral problems or any further issues. She prefers criterion testing because it looks more closely at the issues and difficulties that a student is experiencing, and allows them (the school) to help better through various services that might be needed. At their school, they do not prefer standardized testing. They prefer a testing called “ Maps Testing,” which allows them to see where their students are with less stress. This test tends not to use “ trick questions,” and allows any modifications that might be needed in order to reduce stress. Indeed, she feels that testing is the driving force and the focus is on a number. She struggles with placing a number on a student, which can be debilitating, especially when that number is lower than the national averages. We cannot test for success. No matter how hard they try, they cannot. Even when they think they have the best student with the best scores and who is the most successful in high school, it still does not mean that he or she will be successful.
Success is based on an individual’s drive and motivation to achieve a goal. A student who once thought school was boring, or that they were hopeless in learning new skills, may suddenly feel motivated to achieve something new. She likes to see where schools rank. It is a good indicator of how a school might be doing. However, they have to make sure they are not having a biased view based on just scores alone. She thinks they need to look at the whole school and see what is going on. SCVI and herself test very little if they can help it. They do Maps testing each year and IEP testing throughout the school year. There is a standardized testing that takes place along with the Maps test. They use computers for scoring in their Maps and standardized testing. Apart from that, however, they do not use computers for scoring.
Portfolio assessments are a collection of a student’s works throughout the school year, showcasing what the student has learned. She likes portfolio assessments. She feels that this is a better way to evaluate a student’s work and know what they are learning. Most companies use this sort of process to see what a new hire knows or what someone on the job can do. At SCVI, this sort of assessment is what they use during the students’ journey with them.
The testing or rather the counseling center has the responsibility for administration, maintaining records and scoring a wide collection of tests administered to the subjects in the institution. The tests have not been successful without the assistance of the student body that disseminates information, advises students, and administers exams. She says she has never given up on repeated failures in the exams and further does not like to use this term to describe those who do not get it right the first or second time. The secret behind seeing every student succeed is supporting them and calling them to see the counselor for assistance in their weak points. This is how any institution gets to rank top in achieving their missions or mottos to the extent of winning awards.
She points out that any counselor have to be at the intersections of learning and more interfacing with administrators, parents, students, and teachers. The question becomes what these counselors will have to do to develop rapport that facilitates in communication amongst these factions. Theresa D’Ambrosio believes that is the question that she has had to explain most, given that her work could be judged from this success. Theresa believes that all these factions are critical for successful counseling programs to be realized. Where there is no administrator or teacher’s support, any counselor will often be left alone simply drafting standardized tests, which could be avoided by speaking their language. They must be shown that the students to be tested can be assisted through this data assembled. This way neither the parent nor the administrator will disregard the credibility of these results. When a counselor is supported by use of data, teachers and administrators will always take their work more seriously.
Considering working together with all these entities aimed to improve communication among them, the advisory council behind school counseling is the most appropriate way to get the stakeholders from all these entities to get together at the central point to deliberate on what suits the students best. There must always be a group of independent persons to guide the counseling program whilst offering feedback and support all through. Theresa D’Ambrosio insists that they must brainstorm on the best solutions to situations identified in the school, and celebrate those that work out as intended.
A counselor plays a huge role in developing the climate and culture in the school as Theresa D’Ambrosio highlighted. She provides examples that she has planned and implemented school-based events such as family lunches, red-ribbon weeks, parent education nights, or family dances to bring people together. This way, everyone has the ultimate chance to take a step and celebrate one of their own children and the counselors themselves. Theresa D’Ambrosio had something for the rest of the counselors and especially those that are new to the job. She says that success can be measured not only from the grades attained by these students – no matter how the tests are tough – but also from the life-long impact on these students’ lives.

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