What is a Probe?

A few parents have asked, “What is a Probe?” I am so glad that you asked that because of two reasons. First of all, you are subscribed to our elementary blog and therefore, keeping up with all that is going on at school. Secondly, you are truly interested in your child’s education enough to ask questions.  Please allow me to explain the concept of a Probe through this scenario.

You are preparing a delicious chicken dinner for your entire family. The bird is placed in the oven and cooked for the determined time. As soon as the timer goes off, you place the roasted bird in the center of a serving dish and set it on the table. The first piercing of the fork hints of a pink stain warning you that the chicken is not ready. Decision time – You can serve an unsafe dinner or disassemble the dish and return the fowl to the oven for extended cooking time.

Wouldn’t it have been better to have “Probed” the chicken during cooking to check for readiness?

Our district has chosen to check for readiness before serving up students to new skills for which they are unprepared.

Probes are given every week or two in the form of five or so questions to quickly assess the instruction that has just been completed. It lets the classroom teacher know if reteaching needs to take place or if the class is ready to move on to another skill.  Often times it helps to target prerequisite skills that could be missing and consequently makes it difficult for a student to grasp a newly introduced concept. Without these small assessments on specific skills, or probes, teachers would be left to make decisions without the necessary data.

So, how can a student prepare for these probes?  Generally, students who pay attention to classroom instruction, complete their homework, arrive to school on time, and remain at school for the entire day perform quite successfully on most probes. At times, some students may need the information retaught in a different way before they can show understanding. At other times, a few students may even need the assistance of another instructor to supplement the classroom teacher. In any case, we will use the data to “check for readiness” to insure that your student is fully prepared.