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What is assessment?

Important reminders in using the TeachPoint forms: Do not sign any form until you have shared it with your evaluators and gotten their input and approval; then you can and should sign your form. Once a form is signed, it cannot be modified by anyone. Share first; get feedback, then sign. Remember to click "save and done" button at top right before sharing. In most cases, your "Primary Evaluator" is your principal, and your "Supervising Evaluator" is your department chair or director. Form 1 - Self Assessment. Form 2A - Goal Setting. Form 2B - Educator Plan Form.

Assessment results should describe student performance in terms of different states and levels of competence in the domain. Typical learning pathways should be displayed and made as recognizable as possible to educators, students, and the public. Large-scale assessments of individual achievement could be improved by focusing on the potential for providing feedback that not only measures but also enhances future learning. Likewise, assessments designed to evaluate programs should provide the kinds of information decision makers can use to improve those programs.

People tend to think of school administrators and policy makers as removed from concerns about the details of instruction. Thus large-scale assessment information aimed at those users tends to be general and comparative, rather than descriptive of the nature of learning that is taking place in their schools. Practices in some school districts, however, are challenging these assumptions Resnick and Harwell, Telling an administrator that mathematics is a problem is too vague. Knowing how a school is performing in mathematics relative to past years, how it is performing relative to other schools, and what proportions of students fall in various broadly defined achievement categories also provides little guidance for program improvement.

Saying that students do not understand probability is more useful, particularly to a curriculum planner. And knowing that students tend to confuse conditional and compound probability can be even more useful for the modification of curriculum and instruction. Not only do large-scale assessments provide means for reporting on student achievement, but they also convey powerful messages about the kinds of learning valued by society. Large-scale assessments should be used by policy makers and educators to operationalize and communicate among themselves, and to the public, the kinds of thinking and learning society wishes to encourage in students.

In this way, assessments can foster valuable dialogue about learning and its assessment within and beyond the education system. Models of learning should be shared and communicated in accessible ways to show what competency in a domain looks like. For example, Developmental Assessment based on progress maps is being used in the Commonwealth of Victoria to assess literacy. The program was designed to provide clear goals for learning and assessments that are closely tied to those.

A combination of on-demand and embedded assessment was to be used to tap a broad range of learning outcomes, and priority was given to communicating the performance standards to various user communities. Development of the program was a collaboration between the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsuburgh and the National Center on Education and the Economy, in partnership with states and urban school districts.

Together they developed challenging standards for student performance at grades 4, 8, and 10, along with large-scale assessments designed to measure attainment of those standards. The New Standards Project includes three interrelated components: The performance standards describe what students should know and the ways they should demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired. The performance standards include samples of student work that illustrate high-quality performances, accompanied by commentary that shows how the work sample reflects the performance standards.

They go beyond most content standards by describing how good is good enough, thus providing clear targets to pursue. The Reference Exam is a summative assessment of the national standards in the areas of English Language Arts and Mathematics at grades 4, 8, and The developers state explicitly that the Reference Exam is intended to address those aspects of the performance standards that can be assessed in a limited time frame under standardized conditions. The portfolio assessment system was designed to complement the Reference Exam by providing evidence of achievement of those performance standards that depend on extended work and the accumulation of evidence over time.

The developers recognized the importance of making the standards clear and presenting them in differing formats for different audiences. One version of the standards is targeted to teachers.

What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?

It includes relatively detailed language about the subject matter of the standards and terms educators use to describe differences in the quality of work produced by students. The standards are also included in the portfolio material provided for student use. In these materials, the standards are set forth in the form of guidelines to help students select work for inclusion in their portfolios.

In addition, there were plans to produce a less technical version for parents and the community in general. Aspects of the program have since changed, and the Reference Exam is now administered by Harcourt Educational Measurement. The portfolio component was field tested but has not been administered on a large scale. In the preceding discussion we have addressed issues of practice related to classroom and large-scale assessment separately. We now return to the matter of how such assessments can work together conceptually and operationally.

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

As argued throughout this chapter, one form of assessment does not serve all purposes. Given that reality, it is inevitable that multiple assessments or assessments consisting of multiple components are required to serve the varying educational assessment needs of different audiences. A multitude of different assessments are already being conducted in schools. It is not surprising that users are often frustrated when such assessments have conflicting achievement goals and results. Sometimes such discrepancies can be meaningful and useful, such as when assessments are explicitly aimed at measuring different school outcomes.

More often, however, conflicting assessment goals and feedback cause much confusion for educators, students, and parents. In this section we describe a vision for coordinated systems of multiple assessments that work together, along with curriculum and instruction, to promote learning. Before describing specific properties of such systems, we consider issues of balance and allocation of resources across classroom and large-scale assessment. The current educational assessment environment in the United States clearly reflects the considerable value and credibility accorded external, large-scale assessments of individuals and programs relative to classroom assessments designed to assist learning.

Why do we do it?

The resources invested in producing and using large-scale testing in terms of money, instructional time, research, and development far outweigh the investment in the design and use of effective classroom assessments. Not only does large-scale assessment dominate over classroom assessment, but there is also ample evidence of accountability measures negatively impacting classroom instruction and assessment. For instance, as discussed earlier, teachers feel pressure to teach to the test, which results in a narrowing of instruction. These kinds of problems suggest that beyond striking a better balance between classroom and large-scale assessment, what is needed are coordinated assessment systems that collectively support a common set of learning goals, rather than working at cross-purposes.

Ideally in a balanced assessment environment, a single assessment does not function in isolation, but rather within a nested assessment system involving states, local school districts, schools, and classrooms. Assessment systems should be designed to optimize the credibility and utility of the resulting information for both educational decision making and general monitoring.

To this end, an assessment system should exhibit three properties: These three characteristics describe an assessment system that is aligned along three dimensions: These notions of alignment are consistent with those set forth by the National Institute for Science Education Webb, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics By comprehensiveness, we mean that a range of measurement approaches should be used to provide a variety of evidence to support educational decision making.

Educational decisions often require more information than a single measure can provide. Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation, multiple measures take on particular importance when important, life-altering decisions such as high school graduation are being made about individuals. Multiple measures enhance the validity and fairness of the inferences drawn by giving students various ways and opportunities to demonstrate their competence.

The measures could also address the quality of instruction, providing evidence that improvements in tested achievement represent real gains in learning NRC, c. One form of comprehensive assessment system is illustrated in Table 6— 1 , which shows the components of a U. The results of such examinations are the main criterion for entrance to university courses.

Components A, B, C, and D are all taken within a few days, but E and F involve activities that extend over several weeks preceding the formal examination. Short with structured subcomponents, fixed space for answer, all to be attempted. Because the whole structure of the 16—18 examinations is being changed, this examination and the curriculum on which it is based, which have been in place for 30 years, will no longer be in use after They will be replaced by a new curriculum and examination, based on the same principles.

This feature is also part of the examination system for the International Baccalaureate degree program. In such systems, work is needed to develop procedures for ensuring the comparability of standards across all teachers and schools. Overall, the purpose is to reflect the variety of the aims of a course, including the range of knowledge and simple understanding explored in A, the practical skills explored in D, and the broader capacities for individual investigation explored in E and F.

Validity and comprehensiveness are enhanced, albeit through an expensive and complex assessment process. There are other possible ways to design comprehensive assessment systems. A system may assess and give certification in stages, so that the final outcome is an accumulation of results achieved and credited separately over, say, 1 or 2 years of a learning course; results of this type may be built up by combining on-demand externally controlled assessments with work samples drawn from coursework.

Thus designers must always look to the possibility of using the broader approaches discussed here, combining types of tasks and the timing of assessments and of certifications in the optimum way. Further, in a comprehensive assessment system, the information derived should be technically sound and timely for given decisions. One must be able to trust the accuracy of the information and be assured that the inferences drawn from the results can be substantiated by evidence of various types.

The technical quality of assessment is a concern primarily for external, large-scale testing; but if classroom assessment information is to feed into the larger assessment system, the reliability, validity, and fairness of these assessments must be addressed as well. Researchers are just beginning to explore issues of technical quality in the realm of classroom assessment e. For the system to support learning, it must also have a quality the committee refers to as coherence.

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One dimension of coherence is that the conceptual base or models of student learning underlying the various external and classroom assessments within a system should be compatible. While a large-scale assessment might be based on a model of learning that is coarser than that underlying the assessments used in classrooms, the conceptual base for the large-scale assessment should be a broader version of one that makes sense at the finer-grained level Mislevy, In this way, the exter-.

As one moves up and down the levels of the system, from the classroom through the school, district, and state, assessments along this vertical dimension should align. As long as the underlying models of learning are consistent, the assessments will complement each other rather than present conflicting goals for learning. To keep learning at the center of the educational enterprise, assessment information must be strongly linked to curriculum and instruction. Thus another aspect of coherence, emphasized earlier, is that alignment is needed among curriculum, instruction, and assessment so that all three parts of the education system are working toward a common set of learning goals.

Ideally, assessment will not simply be aligned with instruction, but integrated seamlessly into instruction so that teachers and students are receiving frequent but unobtrusive feedback about their progress. If assessment, curriculum, and instruction are aligned with common models of learning, it follows that they will be aligned with each other.

This can be thought of as alignment along the horizontal dimension of the system. To achieve both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of coherence or alignment, models of learning are needed that are shared by educators at different levels of the system, from teachers to policy makers. This need might be met through a process that involves gathering together the necessary expertise, not unlike the approach used to develop state and national curriculum standards that define the content to be learned.

But current definitions of content must be significantly enhanced based on research from the cognitive sciences. Needed are user-friendly descriptions of how students learn the content, identifying important targets for instruction and assessment see, e. Research centers could be charged with convening the appropriate experts to produce a synthesis of the best available scientific understanding of how students learn in particular domains of the curriculum.

These models of learning would then guide assessment design at all levels, as well as curriculum and instruction, effecting alignment in the system. Some might argue that what we have described are the goals of current curriculum standards. But while the existing standards emphasize what students should learn, they do not describe how students learn in ways that are maximally useful for guiding instruction and assessment. In addition to comprehensiveness and coherence, an ideal assessment system would be designed to be continuous. That is, assessments should measure student progress over time, akin more to a videotape record than to.

To provide such pictures of progress, multiple sets of observations over time must be linked conceptually so that change can be observed and interpreted. Models of student progression in learning should underlie the assessment system, and tests should be designed to provide information that maps back to the progression. Thus, continuity calls for alignment along the third dimension of time. No existing assessment systems meet all three criteria of comprehensiveness, coherence, and continuity, but many of the examples described in this report represent steps toward these goals.

For instance, the Developmental Assessment program shows how progress maps can be used to achieve coherence between formative and summative assessments, as well as among curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Progress maps also enable the measurement of growth continuity. The Australian Council for Educational Research has produced an excellent set of resource materials for teachers to support their use of a wide range of assessment strategies—from written tests to portfolios to projects at the classroom level—that can all be designed to link back to the progress maps comprehensiveness see, e.

The BEAR assessment shares many similar features; however, the underlying models of learning are not as strongly tied to cognitive research as they could be. On the other hand, intelligent tutoring systems have a strong cognitive research base and offer opportunities for integrating formative and summative assessments, as well as measuring growth, yet their use for large-scale assessment purposes has not yet been explored. Thus, examples in this report offer a rich set of opportunities for further development toward the goal of designing assessment systems that are maximally useful for both informing and improving learning.

Large-scale, standardized assessments can communicate across time and place, but by so. Thus the contrast between classroom and large-scale assessments arises from the different purposes they serve and contexts in which they are used. Certain trade-offs are an inescapable aspect of assessment design. Students will learn more if instruction and assessment are integrally related. In the classroom, providing students with information about particular qualities of their work and about what they can do to improve is crucial for maximizing learning.

It is in the context of classroom assessment that theories of cognition and learning can be particularly helpful by providing a picture of intermediary states of student understanding on the pathway from novice to competent performer in a subject domain. Findings from cognitive research cannot always be translated directly or easily into classroom practice. Most effective are programs that interpret the findings from cognitive research in ways that are useful for teachers.

Teachers need theoretical training, as well as practical training and assessment tools, to be able to implement formative assessment effectively in their classrooms. Large-scale assessments are further removed from instruction, but can still benefit learning if well designed and properly used.

Substantially more valid and useful inferences could be drawn from such assessments if the principles set forth in this report were applied during the design process. Large-scale assessments not only serve as a means for reporting on student achievement, but also reflect aspects of academic competence societies consider worthy of recognition and reward.

Thus large-scale assessments can provide worthwhile targets for educators and students to pursue. Whereas teaching directly to the items on a test is not desirable, teaching to the theory of cognition and learning that underlies an assessment can provide positive direction for instruction. To derive real benefits from the merger of cognitive and measurement theory in large-scale assessment, it will be necessary to devise ways of covering a broad range of competencies and capturing rich information about the nature of student understanding.

Indeed, to fully capitalize on the new foundations described in this report will require substantial changes in the way large-scale assessment is approached and relaxation of some of the constraints that currently drive large-scale assessment practices. Alternatives to on-demand, census testing are available. If individual student scores are needed, broader sampling of the domain can be achieved by extracting evidence of student performance from classroom work produced during the course of instruction. For classroom or large-scale assessment to be effective, students must understand and share the goals for learning.

Students learn more when they understand and even participate in developing the criteria by which their work will be evaluated, and when they engage in peer and self-assessment during which they apply those criteria. The current educational assessment environment in the United States assigns much greater value and credibility to external, large-scale assessments of individuals and programs than to classroom assessment designed to assist learning.

The investment of money, instructional time, research, and development for large-scale testing far outweighs that for effective classroom assessment. More of the research, development, and training investment must be shifted toward the classroom, where teaching and learning occur. A vision for the future is that assessments at all levels—from classroom to state—will work together in a system that is comprehensive, coherent, and continuous. In such a system, assessments would provide a variety of evidence to support educational decision making.

Assessment at all levels would be linked back to the same underlying model of student learning and would provide indications of student growth over time. Technology is providing new tools that can help make components of assessment design and implementation more efficient, timely, and sophisticated. We focus on advances that are helping designers forge stronger connections among the three elements of the assessment triangle set forth in Chapter 2.

For instance, technology offers opportunities to strengthen the cognition-observation linkage by enabling the design of situations that assess a broader range of cognitive processes than was previously possible, including knowledge-organization and problem-solving processes that are difficult to assess using traditional, paper-and-pencil assessment methods. Technology offers opportunities to strengthen the cognitive coherence among assessment, curriculum, and instruction.

Some programs have been developed to infuse ongoing formative assessment into portions of the current mathematics and science curriculum. Other projects illustrate how technology fundamentally changes what is taught and how it is taught. Exciting new technology-based learning environments now being designed provide complete integration of curriculum, instruction, and assessment aimed at the development of new and complex skills and knowledge. The chapter concludes with a possible future scenario in which cognitive research, advances in measurement, and technology combine to spur a radical shift in the kinds of assessments used to assist learning, measure student attainment, evaluate programs, and promote accountability.

Education is a hot topic. From the stage of presidential debates to tonight's dinner table, it is an issue that most Americans are deeply concerned about. While there are many strategies for improving the educational process, we need a way to find out what works and what doesn't work as well.

Educational assessment seeks to determine just how well students are learning and is an integral part of our quest for improved education. The nation is pinning greater expectations on educational assessment than ever before. We look to these assessment tools when documenting whether students and institutions are truly meeting education goals. But we must stop and ask a crucial question: What kind of assessment is most effective?

At a time when traditional testing is subject to increasing criticism, research suggests that new, exciting approaches to assessment may be on the horizon. Advances in the sciences of how people learn and how to measure such learning offer the hope of developing new kinds of assessments-assessments that help students succeed in school by making as clear as possible the nature of their accomplishments and the progress of their learning.

Knowing What Students Know essentially explains how expanding knowledge in the scientific fields of human learning and educational measurement can form the foundations of an improved approach to assessment. These advances suggest ways that the targets of assessment-what students know and how well they know it-as well as the methods used to make inferences about student learning can be made more valid and instructionally useful. Principles for designing and using these new kinds of assessments are presented, and examples are used to illustrate the principles.

Implications for policy, practice, and research are also explored. With the promise of a productive research-based approach to assessment of student learning, Knowing What Students Know will be important to education administrators, assessment designers, teachers and teacher educators, and education advocates. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website. Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one.

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Teacher Evaluation | Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment

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The Science and Design of Educational Assessment. The National Academies Press. Page Share Cite. Inevitability of Trade-Offs in Design. Trade-Offs in Assessment Design: Estimates for Groups Versus Individual Students. Reflections on the Multiple Purposes for Assessment. They also report, however, that the characteristics of high-quality formative assessment are not well understood by teachers and BOX 6—1 Transforming Classroom Assessment Practices. Formative Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction. The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

Summative assessments are often high stakes , which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include:. Information from summative assessments can be used formatively when students or faculty use it to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.