Getting to Proficiency Post 6: Assessment Principles

It is time to pick up the the threads of the discussion about proficiency from earlier this winter.  I apologize that some of the intended outcomes before February vacation were not followed through on.  Two things were apparent to me from the work begun earlier.

1) Many want to begin working on a task, I appreciate that and will outline what the first tasks are on Wednesday.

2) Others want to see the big picture.  I will also share that on Wednesday.

I am going to share an observation that from my perspective makes much of this work very challenging.  Many of us want to have our participation honored and respected.  We want to have a say in the workings of our school.  Others wish to be given marching orders.  In this case, we feel the time constraints of our jobs and though willing to do the work, are not comfortable with the uncertainty of making decisions, debating, and choosing.  These two perspectives are equally valid but almost impossible to address at the same time.

Here is a first step in the process and represents my beliefs about assessment.  We will never reach 100% agreement on many of the statements shared and reviewed earlier this winter.  These are a distillation of beliefs that most of us found agreement with earlier this winter.  They are my beliefs and though open for discussion, they are a working draft of what this change means for our school system.  I was challenged by some to give my perspective and this is it.  For those of you who want a say, this step may be stressful, for those who want to be given marching orders, here they are.

These principles are fundamental in my mind to a successful deployment of a standards based system of assessment and grading.  They are followed by just one example of the implications for grading and for our practice (there are many).  Finally, I have shared a vision of what this can look like as we begin to change our practices to align with a standards-based approach to education.

Assessment Principles

Principle 1: Assessments should measure the intended learning outcomes.
Grades: Should clearly communicate what students know and are able to demonstrate against these outcomes.
Practice: We report on student mastery of specific skills and concepts (graduation standards); traits like participation, timeliness,  and effort are reported separately.
Principle 2: Assessment practices should employ multiple assessment strategies and sources of evidence to demonstrate proficiency on graduation standards.
Grades: Should be based upon trends, and favor more recent performances.
Practice: We ask students to build a body of work to demonstrate their mastery of each graduation standard.
Principle 3: Assessment practices should be fair, unbiased, and equitable.
Grades: Should use criterion-referenced standards (performance levels) as references for scoring.
Practice: We provide students with explicit learning targets and performance levels, shared publicly and report against those performance levels.
Principle 4: Assessment practices should be balanced, including diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment.
Grades: Should be permanently recorded in student records only for summative assessments.
Practice: We use diagnostic and formative assessment to check and adjust instruction, provide explicit feedback, practice, track progress, and celebrate success.  We use summative assessments to report on student achievement.
Principle 5: Assessment practices should communicate student progress towards mastery regularly with stakeholders.
Grades: Should be understandable by all audiences and appropriate for the intended purposes of the assessment.
Practice: We communicate with students daily on their progress, report to other stakeholders at multiple points in the semester, and reflect with students on progress towards graduation standards each year.

What can this look like:

The teaching faculty has embraced assessment as a critical component of the learning process. The school has created a coherent system of varied, curriculum-embedded assessments that are aligned with standards and designed to capture a broad range of student learning. Teachers have received training in using assessments to identify and respond to student learning needs and are skilled in the use of diagnostic assessment. Formative, performance-based assessment strategies are used in every classroom throughout the school year to identify emerging student needs so that teachers can modify instruction and coordinate support before students fall behind. Performance assessments and demonstrations of learning are challenging, relevant, and model real-life situations and applications. Learning expectations are clearly communicated to all students at the beginning of courses and lessons, and students understand the assessment methods used by teachers. Teachers provide specific, detailed, and timely oral and written feedback to students on their learning strengths and weaknesses. Students are provided with differentiated assessment opportunities, where appropriate, so that they have ample opportunity to exhibit learning using multiple approaches. Equitable assessment practices ensure that all students have the time, resources, and support they need to demonstrate proficiency.

From Global Best Practices (Found here)


About shawncarlson

Assistant Superintendent
This entry was posted in AOS 98, Assessment, Curriculum. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Getting to Proficiency Post 6: Assessment Principles

  1. Karen Cronk says:

    Looking at this with Special Education eyes, in order for class and school-wide assessments to be “fair, unbiased and equitable” they must be accessible to all. An identified student may be quite proficient at a task as long as the material is accessible to him/her. Reading level is an area that comes to mind. “Assessments should measure intended learning outcomes.” not whether or not a student is reading at grade level. Something to keep in mind for development of class assessments, as well as future selection of school-wide assessments! Thank you.

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