Category Archives: Summer Conference

The Doctor is in: Time for an Academic Physical with Dr. Nikki Roorda

Every day, in millions of doctors’ offices across the world, people go in for their annual physical exam.  This process brings out a multitude of emotions from patients including, but not limited to, “I hate going to the doctor.  I know s/he is going to tell me to lose a few pounds and to stop eating out so much,” to “I am excited to see how my changes in lifestyle choices have impacted my high blood pressure,” and everything in between.

The purpose of health screenings is defined by the American Medical Association (AMA)  as, “Health care services or products provided to an individual without apparent signs or symptoms of an illness, injury or disease for the purpose of identifying or excluding an undiagnosed illness, disease, or condition” (2000).  The AMA contends that through the use of screening, our doctors can determine if a medical emergency exists.  No matter what thoughts go through our minds when we go in for our annual physicals, at the end of the day we trust in the process of the health screen to keep us safe from underlying medical issues.

We now have the opportunity to look at the academic health of our school system through the use of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS).  Similar to an annual check-up at the doctor’s office, this screening will help look at the academic health of your school or district to see if you have resources distributed appropriately within your system, or if there is a need to bolster your Core Instructional Cycle, where 80% of your students should be successful without any additional supports.

I would love for you to bring your team and join me at the 2017 ATI Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, from 1:15 – 4:00 p.m. as we dig into your data and conduct an “Academic Physical.”  My Bring Your Own Data session, How Strong is Your Core? An Academic Physical (part 1 from 1:15 to 2:30 and part 2 from 2:45 to 4:00), will address the following learning targets:

  • Identify key features of successful schools/districts
  • Describe the differences between RTI and RtI
  • Analyze the health of your school’s Core Instructional Cycle
  • Identify potential barriers to implementing a new initiative
  • Develop an action plan to develop/revise your current MTSS/RtI plan

Please plan on bringing hard copies of your universal screening data or state achievement test data in a content area, or be able to access your data electronically, as we will participate in a Bring Your Own Data process that will help you discover the health of your system, as well as time as a team to develop an action plan for continuing this work at home after the conference is over.  I look forward to seeing you!!! 

#atisummer2017 #atibyod

Dr. Nikki Roorda received her doctorate in administrative leadership for teaching and learning from Walden University and is currently a Regional Director for Heartland Area Education Agency, an intermediate services unit in Iowa. Nikki’s master’s degree in teaching and learning is from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Nikki has served in the capacity of classroom teacher, central office administrator, consultant, and college instructor during the course of her educational career. Nikki has experience with kindergarten through twelfth-grade students and teachers, and brings a joy of teaching and learning to the workshops she conducts. She has facilitated the development and implementation of a district-wide standards based grading and reporting systems in both public and private schools. Nikki also has facilitated systems-level change in the areas of assessment, co-teaching, and special education practices. In her current position she works with building and district-level administrators and teachers to improve outcomes for students.

American Medical Association (2000). State Variations in Newborn Screenings.  Retrieved from,d.cWw  on October 14, 2016.



Q&A with Jan Chappuis, author of Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning

ChappuisQ: This is the 23rd annual ATI Summer Conference. Can you tell us how the conference got started?

Jan Chappuis (JC): Rick Stiggins and his wife, Nancy Bridgeford, had recently founded the Assessment Training Institute here in Portland, Oregon to address a major gap in preservice education programs: teachers were generally not prepared to engage in effective assessment practices. The summer conference began as a way to bring together like-minded professionals to further ATI’s mission—to develop understanding of how day-to-day classroom assessment can and should serve learning. Today, 23 years later, “going to Portland” has been a transformational experience for thousands of educators in the US and around the world. Continue reading

Grading On a 6-Point Scale

Ben ArcuriBy Ben Arcuri

I have convinced myself for many years, that the percentage grade created and assigned to the students at the end of my course accurately represents the students’ level of learning.  I made major changes to my grading to allow this to happen. I shared and discussed grading systems and structures with my colleagues.  I presented during professional development days at my school and other schools on these topics many times. I left the sessions feeling good that I have shared a way to accurately assess and measure student learning.  Educators left my sessions feeling encouraged and supported. I was happy that I was sharing my grading system and pedagogy to educators who want to try to create better environments for learning in their classrooms and schools. Continue reading

ATI Summer Conference is Almost Here!


In case you haven’t heard, the 23rd Annual ATI Summer Conference is in less than a month: July 6-8, 2016. We return to Portland, OR, and we have a lot of informative sessions with your favorite speakers planned. Register Now!

Keynote Speakers:

  • Jan Chappuis
  • Myron Dueck
  • Margaret Heritage
  • Rick Stiggins
  • Dylan Wiliam



Assessment Strategies Proven to Work

Ben ArcuriBy Ben Arcuri

There is no bigger topic in education these days than the topic of assessment. Assessment has many definitions depending on who is doing the talking. The purpose of assessments and the intended users of  assessment information differ tremendously as well. Assessment can serve as a guide to the students; it has the ability to guide the teacher and can also drive education policy and reform. Continue reading

High-Quality Assessments and Standards-based Grading and Reporting

natalie-bolton130x140By Natalie Bolton

Standards-based grading and reporting policies are becoming a norm in P/K ­‐ 12 schools, districts, and states. However, as policies are created calling for shifts in grading and reporting practices, it is imperative that time be spent on making sure that classroom assessments, both formative and summative, are of high quality. So, what tools or checks are in place to assist teachers in making sure their classroom assessments are of high quality, prior to reporting if a student has met a standard?

I’ve found that using the assessment development cycle as described by Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, and Arter (2012) is a great tool to critique an existing assessment or to provide guidance as an assessment is being designed. Using the assessment development cycle helps ensure I can accurately communicate about student mastery of standards. All assessments, regardless of assessment method, should go through the cycle to ensure assessments are of quality. Three stages make up the cycle and are described in Figure 1. Continue reading

Instructional Agility 

tom schimmer7x5By Tom Schimmer

For an assessment to serve a truly formative purpose, it needs to cause some action by the teacher and students. In other words, the information gleaned must have the potential to illicit an instructional change or adjustment going forward. The word potential is important here because the resulting assessment information will not always lead to instructional changes since the assessments may confirm that what the teacher has planned for the next fifteen minutes is the most favorable direction to take. The point is that the teacher be in a position to consider those changes in real-time; that a teacher have the instructional agility to make the necessary maneuvers in as short a time as possible.

Formative assessment is a verb. When we view formative assessment as a noun we create two challenges. First, the assessment-as-noun mindset is one that views assessments as a series of events. This event focus creates the illusion that every time teachers assess their students they must create something tangible to hand out. Second, an event-based view of assessment infers that a teacher must “stop teaching” in order to “conduct” their formative assessments. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach in small, periodic doses, those who view assessments as nouns will find the prospect of day-by-day, minute-by-minute formative assessment daunting as they ponder the number artifacts they must create and collect. It’s no wonder some teachers proclaim that they “don’t have time for formative assessment.” Continue reading

Grades as Communication

By Ken MattinglyKen Mattingly

Grades have served many purposes for many people over the years. The general intent, I’ve always believed, has been to represent how students are doing in school. However, there’s often disagreement on the specifics of the grade and exactly “how” it represents student performance. Some feel a grade should reflect the amount of work done by a student. Others view a grade as a representation of when a student learned the material. I would argue that each of these camps are missing out on a key aspect of a grade.

While a grade can tell teachers, administrators, and parents about a student’s performance, if it doesn’t inform the student, then a key player in the learning environment is being left out. If grades are to serve as communication, then they have to address the person that makes the most learning decisions in the classroom — the student. Grades must tell students where they are in the learning process and what they have to improve on. Continue reading

Planning for Learning


By Jan Chappuis

The preservice education my teaching colleagues and I experienced focused primarily on the act of instructing—different ways to deliver information—with no attention to responding to student work. Consequently, I, like many others, began teaching with a repertoire of four steps: plan, instruct, assign, and grade. First I planned what I would do and what my students would do. Then, I prepared the materials and resources. Next, I did what I planned, and they did what I planned. Last, I graded what they did. However, learning and teaching turned out to be far messier than I had been prepared for. Somewhere between “I taught it” and “they learned it,” the straight shot downstream to achievement sprung surprisingly into an array of diverging tributaries. Over the course of that first year, I discovered there are a thousand ways for learners to “not get” a lesson.

The belief underpinning my teacher preparation seemed to be that learning trots right along after good instruction, a sort of stimulus-response system, in which instruction alone will create learning. However, when students have continued learning needs after instruction, it is not necessarily an indication that something went wrong. Learning is an unpredictable process; instructional correctives are part of the normal flow of attaining mastery in any field. Continue reading

Rigor: One Part of an Equation for Success

By CCassie Erkensassandra Erkens

In the countries out-performing North America on the PISA report, educational leaders began their school improvement efforts by focusing on increasing rigor (Ripley, 2013).  In the US, businesses and colleges alike are clamoring for today’s graduates to be functioning at higher levels than they currently are. Toward that end, we’ve seen an increase in the level of rigor demanded in the newly emerging next generation standards (Common Core, national science standards, new state or province created standards, and so on).  The question is no longer, should we increase the levels of rigor for our learners, but rather, how can we successfully increase the levels of rigor we offer and exact from our learners today? Continue reading