Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Assessment Literacy, SLOs and New Standards

Assessment is one of the main components of the educational shifts that are occurring in our district, our state and across the country -assessment of learning, formative assessment "for learning", growth measures, assessment of teacher effectiveness, Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), assessment of College and Career Readiness, and alignment of assessments to the rigor of the new standards.  Teachers, administrators, parents, students and community members need to become "Assessment Literate". 

 Let's start with what Assessment Literacy IS.  

I did some searching and came up with three definitions for Assessment Literacy.  A good starting point for discussions with your own staff might be "Define Assessment Literacy" and see what they think!

W.James Popham, in his 2009 blog post "Is Assessment Literacy the Magic Bullet" defines it as follows, "Assessment literacy is present when a person possesses the assessment-related knowledge and skills needed for the competent performance of that person’s responsibilities. 

Rick Stiggins, in his 2001 book Student Involved Classroom Assessment, states that
 " those who know the meaning of assessment quality with all of its nuances and know that one is never justified in settling for unsound assessments are assessment literate. "

The Standards for Teacher Competence In The Educational Assessments of Studentsdeveloped by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Assoc.,and the National Council on Measurement in Education in 1990, defines 7 areas where teachers should be able to demonstrate competency to be considered assessment literate.
  • Teachers should be skilled in choosing assessment methods appropriate for instructional decisions.
  • Teachers should be skilled in developing assessment methods appropriate for instructional decisions.  
  • The teacher should be skilled in administering, scoring and interpreting the results of both externally-produced and teacher-produced assessment methods.  
  • Teachers should be skilled in using assessment results when making decisions about individual students, planning teaching, developing curriculum, and school improvement.
  • Teachers should be skilled in developing valid pupil grading procedures which use pupil assessments.  
  • Teachers should be skilled in communicating assessment results to students, parents, other lay audiences, and other educators.  
  • Teachers should be skilled in recognizing unethical, illegal, and otherwise inappropriate assessment methods and uses of assessment information.
What does Assessment Literacy Look Like?
Teachers - Reference prior student knowledge when planning lessons. Tier lesson expectations to stretch all kids based on regularly collected formative assessment data. Develop summative assessments that accurately measure what the standards are asking the students to DO. Regularly use assessment data to help with the design of instructional units. Can explain to parents the steps necessary for their student to move forward on the learning path, using data they have gathered on the student. Can explain to administrators how data is used to guide student learning. Reads assessment data reports and can understand student growth and achievement on state or standardized assessments. Use technology as a part of their assessment plan.  Use effective feedback strategies to help students monitor their own learning.  Have a variety of assessment strategies to choose from that are appropriate to the skill or task to be assessed.

Students - Can explain where they are in their learning - and what they need to do to move forward. Know what their strengths and weaknesses are as learners and can use appropriate strategies to support their own learning. Have a set of strategies to use when asked to do a performance task, answer Evidence Based Selected Response Questions, or write an argument, synthesis or analysis. Can use assessment results to decide what they may still need to spend time mastering vs. items they may have missed because of a careless mistake.  Can utilize a variety of study strategies (metacognition) to help them "internalize" information and build knowledge.

Parents - Can explain where their children are in their learning and what can be done at school and at home to help move learning forward. Can talk with teachers about their student's strengths and weaknesses as a learner and what learning approaches may work best for their students. Can look at assessment results and understand what is being measured and how this measurement reflects their student's learning.

Community Members - Can look at assessment data reported in district newsletters or local new articles and understand how this reflects the learning environment being provided in their local schools. Can look at the "District Report Card" information shared by the ODE and understand the factors that go into assessing the district - and what influences each of those factors.


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