The Six Circles

Standards Aligned System (SAS) reflects the Pennsylvania Department of Education's vision for continuous school improvement. SAS, affectionately referred to as the six circles, reminds us that student achievement should be central to what we do.

No surprise there, school should be about the kids. Having worked with numerous school improvement teams, it is clear that students are sometimes overlooked. The graphic is a good filter for our thinking.... is it (whatever it might be) good for kids?

Then we need to ask.... does our thinking make sense? Do our assessments align with the curriculum? Our instruction? Do they align with our interventions? The caution here is to think through the questions and cite the evidence. Time and time again we see schools that say they have clear standards and fair assessments, only to later share that many of the special needs students do not have access to standards-based instruction. No evidence of IEPs being aligned to standards. We've also seen schools that indicate they have fair assessments and interventions, only to find PSSA data or benchmark data , rather than diagnostic data, has been used to place students into programs.

Fair Assessments have received considerable attention. The Department has been working through defining the different types of assessments and how they can used with an emphasis on formative assessments. The push is to view formative assessment as the key to effective instruction. Minute to minute types of assessments to maintain active engagement and to adjust instruction. I am anxious to see how teachers and administrators react to this vision of fair assessments.... relieved that PDE supports classroom assessments or continued resent towards assessment... I often hear if only I was allowed to teach.. etc..

Read more about the six circles at


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