Lightweight Evidence-Gathering Instruments and Tools (LEGIT) for Students with Disabilities

Measurement is one of the essential tools schools use to understand and improve teaching practices and support strategies for all students. Yet most educational assessment tools on the market fail to give teachers what they need to calibrate and deliver the right intervention at the right time for students with disabilities, especially those who are also BIPOC or living in poverty. This is Brooklyn LAB's proposal for a LEGIT solutions program to support multi-disciplinary teams to build, refine, and evaluate lightweight diagnostics and technological components to create the conditions for better evidence-gathering. We hope that by sharing our proposal, we can inspire educators to rethink their assessment tools and design systems that work for ALL students.

Since the pandemic began, we have witnessed the failure of our government to meet the needs of its citizens, particularly those who are most vulnerable. School communities have felt (and been) overwhelmed. Rather than seeking to identify and respond to challenges, we have resigned ourselves to tiptoeing around the periphery of student experience, hoping not to see all the needs going unfulfilled. As educators, it’s time to be present to student well-being and needs, to embrace better evidence gathering and to make substantial, sustained investments in diagnostics focused on student learning and thriving. The way to do this is through Lightweight Evidence-Gathering Instruments and Tools (LEGIT) solutions. To find our footing and help schools settle the ball, our setor must commit to build, refine, and evaluate lightweight diagnostics and technological components to create the conditions for better evidence-gathering that will connect teachers with effective, customized solutions to improve learning and well-being for students with disabilities. 

Whereas heavyweight tools require time, expertise, and high costs, LEGIT solutions should be easy to use, cheap, and accessible, like an eye chart. They should dive deeper than traditional approaches to assessment, charting youth’s aspirations, pain points, neurodevelopmental processes, and strengths, to help educators build empathy for their students and assist them in crafting a more holistic, tailored set of supports. Whereas current assessments look at what students have learned, LEGIT solutions should aim to reveal how students master the building blocks of learning – they should be comprehensive, coherent, continuous, and dynamic.

An Iterative Design Project of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools