Assessment Literacy

Assessment Literacy is a key part of good instructional practice. Teachers who are demonstrating effective assessment literacy skills are able to:

  • match assessment tool to the purpose for gathering evidence
  • scaffold assessments to help guide get student thinking as they work through the assessment/task OR to help see the depth of knowledge/understanding students have of the standards/skills being assessed 
  • consider bias and sensitivity issues when planning any type of assessment
  • develop assessment items/tasks that match the cognitive demand of the standards they will be measuring.
  • use the evidence gathered through the assessment to inform instruction and provide feedback
  • design assessment that help provide evidence not only of mastery learning but also possible misconceptions and gaps in learning.
  • articulate a vision for assessment across the year/course.
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. "

My Related Blog Posts and Resources:

Using PARCC Assessment Items to Build Assessment Literacy

I have learned a lot about assessment design during the past two years I have been involved in the PARCC consortium work developing our Next Generation Assessments to match our New Learning Standards.  I have put together a set of activities, professional development videos, and discussion guides to help teachers and administrators use the PARCC assessment items as a starting point for building assessment literacy skills.  Hundreds of teachers, testing scientists and education specialists have helped to develop the PARCC items.  They are closely aligned to the standards and have been through a bias/sensitivity review process.  The items that I reference throughout the video are taken directly from the full PARCC practice tests that are currently available at

How to use the professional development modules : Using the PARCC Practice Tests to Build Assessment Literacy - Understanding the rigor of Ohio's New Learning Standards .

Each module has a set of reflection questions to be used prior to viewing the video, a 6-15 minute long video component, and a set of discussion questions to be used after viewing the video.  The modules can be done individually, as a small group during a teacher based team meeting, or as a large group at a staff meeting.

Related Links:
  • Find this presentation as a ppt online click HERE
  • Char's All In One Page Resources for PARCC (Principal's Toolkit)  click HERE
  • PARCC BLUEPRINTS for ELA and Math all grades
  • K-8 Standards links for  ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies all on 1 page click HERE


Building Assessment Literacy and Understanding the Rigor of the Standards Part 1
Discussion Guide: click HERE


Building Assessment Literacy and Understanding the Rigor of the Standards Part 2
Discussion Guide: click HERE


Building Assessment Literacy and Understanding the Rigor of the Standards Part 3
Discussion Guide: Click HERE


Building Assessment Literacy and Understanding the Rigor of the Standards Part 4
Discussion Guide: Click HERE


Building Assessment Literacy and Understanding the Rigor of the Standards Part 5
Discussion Guide: Click HERE

Bay Village City Schools 
FIP Team 2014-2015 Assessment Literacy Workshop Materials
Char Shryock and Darryl Innocenzi, Presenters  

Related Activities:
Building an Assessment Continuum
Time: 25-45 minutes
  • post-it notes for each participant
  • wall signs - or smaller labels to be used at each small group table [FORMATIVE] [SUMMATIVE]
  • Pens/pencils
Purpose: To help teachers/administrators begin to develop an assessment vision for their classroom, building or district by creating a continuum of existing assessments that ranges from most formative to most summative. This continuum will help identify gaps in assessment, overlapping uses for assessment etc.

  • On individual post-it notes, write the name/description of each assessment used in a class or building or district (depending on the group who is doing this)
  • Arrange the post-its as a continuum from those that are most formative (assessment for learning) entrance/exit slips, thumbs up/thumbs down are examples of most formative ---  to most summative (assessment of learning) - State tests, ACTs tests are examples most summative
  • Discuss as table groups or whole group what patterns can be seen in assessment?
  • Discuss formative vs summative - should assessments be equally distributed along the continuum or would it be best to have more at one end or the other?
  • Discuss any assessments that provide duplicate evidence - is this necessary?
  • Discuss how the evidence from the assessments are used - by whom? for what purpose?

Love it Or List It - Assessment Remodeling and Renovation - based on the HGTV show by the same name where families work with a designer to renovate existing space to improve its functionality - or decide they need to move on to something that better fits their needs. 
Time: 30-60 minutes or more, depending on the decision of the team doing the work and the length of the assessments chosen by the participants.
  • A formative or summative assessment that the teacher has developed or is using from a vendor/text series
  • copies of grade level standards
  • if available, examples of student work/answers from the assessment
  • highlighters, pens, pencils
  • post-its
  • At the top of the assessment, write FORMATIVE or SUMMATIVE depending on the original purpose.
  • On post-its, list the standards that were being assessed - number them to allow for coding of individual assessment items.
  • Go through each standard and highlight the verbs & any related wording that would help to define the cognitive demand of the standard.
  • Go through the assessment/task and highlight/code items that tie back to each of the standards. Place a tally mark on the post-it for each standard as you find an item that is aligned to it. It is possible that one task/item may address more than one standard.
  • Make a table to show the standards being assessed, the instructional time spent on each of those standards, the level of cognitive demand reflected in the standard, and the number of items that are tied to the standard
  • Did the number of items per standard match with the % of instructional time spent on that standard? If not, what items may need to be added/removed?
  • Did the items match the level of cognitive demand in the standard? (think Bloom's Taxonomy or Webb's Depth of Knowledge)
  • If applicable, look at student work/answers for each item/task - did the item/task produce the evidence of learning that you were looking for? If not, how could you revise/change the item/task to produce this evidence?
  • If you used multiple choice or matching items - did the distractor items you selected help you to gather evidence of possible misconceptions or lack of knowledge depth? If not, how might you revise the items to do this? Could you add a "part b" to a multiple choice item to allow student to provide evidence for why they answered "part a"? 
  • Where applicable, how did you use text dependent questions to allow students to go back into a passage, lab, primary source etc to find evidence to support their answer vs. asking a question that is more opinion based or based on prior knowledge that students could answer without having read the passage?
  • Based on your work, how might you begin to develop a "blueprint" that would help you to build future assessments that will give you and your students evidence of their learning?

Additional Resources:

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