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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Practical and Possible: Developing an Assessment Plan

Practical and Possible: Developing an Assessment Plan for Next Semester

This is a great time of year to start thinking about how you are going to plan, teach, and assess next semester so it can be even better. We all know the value of ‘beginning with the end in mind’ but sometimes that can seem overwhelming. A helpful first step is to deconstruct the curriculum so you know exactly what needs to be taught, what the evidence of learning could be, what samples and models you might use to support learning, and how you are going to evaluate.

This important work is increasingly urgent as educators cope with seemingly constant curricula changes across North America. And, with the implementation of the Common Core in the United States, we are also challenged to plan from the beginning for more thoughtful student engagement and more higher level thinking. Quality classroom assessment has a key role in this work. Here is one sample of an assessment plan developed during a summer Institute. It is from an upper-level languages class (Spanish). I am also adding some photos of plans from other subject areas at other levels (see below).

As this teacher, and other teachers like her, work(s) with colleagues, they will construct criteria together, score samples of student work, and check for inter-rater reliability. This means their informed professional judgment will likely be more reliable and valid than external tests (ARG, 2007; Burger et al., 2011). Also, because it is clear students will be involved in co-constructing criteria regarding their learning (such as 'thoughtful discussions' and 'reflection' and 'in-depth understanding'), quality classroom assessment will lead towards the learning results this teacher (and the curricula) want to see.

If you want more help with creating an assessment plan for you and your students, I take you though 10 easy steps in Making Classroom Assessment Work (3rd Ed). I am always thrilled when people tell me they used it to guide their learning about classroom assessment as a PLC team or school faculty. You can also download a free assessment planning booklet (scroll down the left side) that will guide your work as you get ready for the new semester.

Spanish II – An Assessment Plan (High School)

Notice this plan is in student friendly language so it can be posted and shared with students as well as their parents. It was developed after the teacher carefully analyzed what students need to learn. The teacher has a more detailed listing of learning outcomes to guide her work.

Notice that the evidence of learning in the upper left hand quadrant includes triangulated evidence of learning (products, observations, and conversations) in order that the teacher’s professional judgment is more likely to be valid and reliable.

Thanks to R. Pass for sharing her assessment plan (DRAFT)

Note: We always recommend people label assessment plans DRAFT. It allows them to be 'works in progress' which they are and have to be until we meet the learners and understand their needs in relation to what needs to be taught.

--> To learn more... You might want to consider attending one of our August Institutes in Canmore or Atlantic Canada (details expected soon). They will help you to start the year off on a great note!  The two Canmore Institutes are titled A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting: Building an Assessment Plan that Makes a Difference and Assessment is Learning: Activating and Engaging Learners Through Quality Assessment. Plan to attend!  We would love to see you there! 

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