Tag Archives: Classroom Assessment

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

What Happens Before the Reassessment?

Jeff_EricksonBy Jeffrey Erickson

The topic of reassessment has spurred many “lively” conversations and debates in schools. Some argue that it isn’t fair that some get a second chance for learning and believe that it doesn’t reflect the real world to have second chances (forgetting the fact that many would not be able to drive to work if there weren’t redos.) Others contend that reassessments provide students an important opportunity to improve their learning and show proficiency. However, what I’ve learned over time, as a building principal, is that we need to shift the conversation away from reassessment and towards what happens before the first summative assessment is even given.

My school, Minnetonka High School, is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. As teachers of IB courses complete course assessments, they are required to review all of the assessments, compare them against the rubric, and predict students’ final IB scores (from a 0-7 point scale). In turn, IB moderates the teacher’s predicted score. The process of predicting individual students’ scores is intriguing because of the amount of evidence of learning required to predict them.

A teacher who starts with the end in mind should be able to go around the classroom as he or she passes out the summative assessment to the class and accurately predict each student’s performance. The outcome on the test should not be a surprise to either the teacher or student. Sounds simple? In reality, no—to do this, the teacher must have a preponderance of evidence about each student’s performance gathered over the unit of study. There has to have been a series of formative assessments that provide the teacher with accurate feedback about the student’s learning. Each of the formative assessments helps drive and shape the instruction of the teacher so that mid-course corrections can be made. Rather than being reactive after the summative, the goal is to be proactive during the learning process and intervene long before the first test is given. If the evidence of learning shows that students are not ready, why would a student take the assessment the first time?

In the end, the testing results should never be a surprise. The criteria for success should be clear to all parties. Students should receive timely, specific, and targeted feedback throughout the learning process. With this information, proactive interventions can happen just in time for remediation—not the day after the summative assessment.

The “I” Needs the “We”—To Develop and Refine Classroom Assessment Practices, An Educator Needs the System and Strong Leaders

By Carol CommodImageore

It has been my privilege over the last 20 years to work with educators all over the U.S. and the world in the area of assessment, leadership, and systems.  What I have learned from these experiences is that educators work hard and are dedicated to the students they serve, but to do their work more easily and well they need the support of the educational systems in which they work.  They must also have strong leaders who understand their needs and strive to remove the barriers and provide the resources for change.  To make positive, productive changes in classroom assessment practices, I have drawn particular conclusions about systems and leaders.

Systems, especially effective systems:

  • Are dynamic.  When you improve or innovate in one area of the system, it can have an impact on multiple areas of the system
  • Change person by person
  • Support rather than impede the work of individuals within the system
  • Are large and small, but regardless of size effective systems, have strong leaders and committed individuals who know and can communicate the mission and vision of the educational system
  • Need people who know their roles in the system and know what decisions they have to make so all can succeed in making the vision become a reality
  • Have people who know they are valued by the type of feedback and support they receive
  • Have people who continually strive and work together to improve their knowledge and skills in classroom assessment practices and team learning
  • Have people who respect each other
  • Have people who know they are making a positive difference by the results that are produced and analyzed

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