Plan performance data to answer questions
Team assessments answer instructional questions. Outline or blueprint the assessment to guide creating meaningful team assessments. A good blueprint will create an assessment that tells a story about student learning.
Establish the purpose and use of the assessment
What do we need to learn about our students?
How are we going to use the data or results?
Common assessments should provide information to improve instructional decisions, and the learning opportunities for students.
Assessments should target learning or instructional needs, and use the performance data to benefit teachers and students.
Purpose drives the definition of your assessment.
Determining the purpose, and use of performance data, will help define the type of assessment.
For example, if you want prediction, the test should mirror the style, and standards of an important summative assessment. Assessments used for grading reflect current classroom instructional standards, and include the type of content you are currently using in the classroom.
Blueprint questions outline and define the assessment
What standards will tell us what we want to know about our students?
Common or classroom assessments should include the most important current standards, standards you don’t have current good data, or skills you know will be needed in future learning.
Not all current standards or their skills need to be included on assessments. Don’t feel the need to assess standards you already have enough information from the students.
Do any of the standards complement each other?
Complementary Standards usually come from the same domain or strand. Identifying complementary standards will reduce item counts and exam time, and still provide good data. You may have only a couple of items for a standard, but your are looking for indications of students learning, not designing a high stakes assessment.
Define instructional needs
- What skills or knowledge within the standards need to be assessed?
- What level of difficulty and/or complexity is appropriate at this point in the school year?
- How much time are we going to give students to complete the test?
- How many items do we need on this assessment?
Item counts per standard do not have to be high for classroom assessments. Quality items, along with the right standard mix, will provide the performance data to improve learning and instruction.
Are we taking this online or off-line?
Online versions of an assessment will allow for different item types. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on the available technology, and the quality of the online item. Assessments that are going to analyzed by a team or department, should either be online or offline, not a mix environment. If each teacher is going to look at the results in isolation, it doesn’t matter.
What item types should we use?
- Multiple choice
- Constructed response
- Performance tasks
- Writing prompt
- Technology enhanced
Modifications and participation
- Will all students take the assessment?
- Are we going to allow modifications to the assessment?
- Do we provide any additional support to specific students?
Team or department assessments normally expect administration for all students with little or no modifications. We know that expectations and reality do not always match. Without agreed guidelines, the test environment may look different from class to class. If you want to make quality inferences from the performance data, make sure the team has guidelines to follow for participation and modifications.