Why I complete an assessment when meeting a new family and what it tells me about the child I am going to work with.

I am quite certain that there are some tutors that will take a phone call, accept a new student, ask the parent what their child needs to work on, and then just start working with their child with no plan of action in place. After all, the parent knows exactly what they need to work on, and the tutor is probably just going to help with homework.

Well, it doesn’t work that way for me. I ALWAYS do an assessment when I work with a new family. Once I find out from the parent what their concern is, I ask questions. Once I clarify and get my questions answered, I create an assessment or find one that will allow me to “see” the problem in action.

If the child is a third grader with difficulties in math, then I will find out the state they are residing in, and look for State Department of Education. That will lead me to a few things. I always look at their grade level, I read over their state standards, then I look for their state assessments. If they have beginning of the year, middle of the year, or end of the year assessments, I will read those overs. Depending on the time of year, I will select the appropriate practice test, download it, and print it out. Then I will cut it into “cards” for a game. I then create a gameboard for the assessment using Google Slides. I download that and print it out and add the cards to the gameboard, I place all of this in a ziplock bag and include a die and game pieces. I add a markerboard and manipulatives for math games as well as an abacus. I take this with me when I meet with them. If I am doing an online assessment, I do exactly the same thing. I just take those physical objects and create digital substitutions.

If I am creating a reading test for a student, I use DIBELS to do word knowledge and reading fluency tests. This is a little bit harder for me to gamify, but if I begin with a game, the kids are typically more relaxed and ready to do the reading on that test. So, I create a word game or comprehension game and take that if I am not already doing some sort of math game with them prior to the reading assessment.

I take notes as I go and then I create some sort of a report for the family. If the child can leave the room, I will discuss my observations. If they cannot or don’t want them to, then I will type up a report and send it to them. I follow up with a call or an email.

This assessment does a lot for me and for the families I work with. It gives me a chance to “see” how the child answers questions, what their thinking is, and how they respond to different situations.

As I communicate with my families, it allows the parents to see that what the teacher has reported is actually happening. I don’t mind if parents sit in on the assessment. I want them to see the process and watch their child. I also want them to see how I communicate and work with their child.

I think starting with an open dialogue and conducting a fact-finding mission allows me to think through how I can best serve the child. I then share my thoughts with the family and tell them how I can help to move their child forward and support them on their learning journey.

This is a service that an experienced teacher can offer because they have done these assessments in the classroom. I appreciate the fact that I get an introduction to the child and their needs.

Once I get the assessment done and have communicated the needs of the child to the parents, I then communicate dates and times for availability to my families so we can schedule our sessions.

So, if you are looking for a tutor and you find one that doesn’t offer an assessment or consultation, take pause and ask a few questions of your own. You want to find out how they will determine how they will discover your child’s needs.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit the following:



Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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