School Initiative Seeks To Boost Feedback For Teachers

NEWARK – Local educators are among the first in the state using a new program aimed at improving teaching and encouraging learning.

With the help of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), teachers at Pocomoke Elementary School have implemented a new initiative designed to make classroom instruction more effective.

“We always try to find new and inventive ways to meet the needs of our children,” said Michael Brown, principal at Pocomoke Elementary School. “It also helps empower our children to start assessing themselves.”

The initiative, Formative Assessment for Maryland Educators (FAME), was introduced at Pocomoke Elementary this year. Ten faculty members have been trained to embed little assessments into their lessons to determine how well their students are grasping the material presented.

“This is a process ongoing during instruction,” teacher Beverly Watson said.

Teacher Maria Graham said the assessments were “in the moment” events helped students stay engaged. She said that assessments could be as simple as questions she asked the students or could be observations or even activities that determined how well children understood a topic. They serve to keep the students involved and at the same time provide teachers with feedback so they know if they need to adjust their lessons.

“It’s a process not a task,” said Melissa Finkel, an education specialist with MSDE.

Finkel said Pocomoke Elementary’s teachers started practicing the FAME process after participating in a number of online learning modules.

“These online modules are there for the teachers to go back and revisit,” she said.

In addition, the teachers are able to collaborate with staff from MSDE and other teachers now using the FAME initiative. Finkel said the concept behind the program, improving student performance through dialogue and feedback, wasn’t new for teachers.

“They’re not starting from scratch. They’re just thinking a little differently,” she said.

Finkel stressed that FAME was not the traditional test given at the end of a lesson but rather dialogue between teachers and students during a lesson. FAME, according to MSDE, is meant to support learning during the learning process while traditional testing is meant to measure how much students have learned by a certain point, whether it’s the end of the semester or the end of the school year.

“Getting them to talk to each other in academic language is vital,” Finkel said.

For more information on FAME, visit