Plan useful assessments

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Plan useful performance data

  • Answer instructional questions.
  • Plan to create meaningful assessments.
  • Planning starts with an instructional story to tell about students.
  • Provide students with meaningful feedback.

Use of data

 What do we need to learn from the students?

How are we going to use the data to improve learning and instruction?

  • Prediction to help prepare for high-stakes tests.
  • Diagnostic data for instructional planning.
  • Grades from the performance that matches classroom instruction.
  • Placement data to provide confidence in program placement.
  • Intervention decisions to enter or exit a program.
  • Instructional feedback for future learning.
  • Create plans to improve instruction and the learning environment.

Outline and define the assessment

Outline or a blueprint creates assessments that answer instructional questions. It focuses information and data on helping students and teacher.

The blueprint is the first step in creating tests that tell a story about your students. It is similar to planning an essay. The structure keeps focusing on the classroom by guiding the creation of useful performance data.

Standards, skills, and content

  • Current instructional standards
  • Important skills within the standards
  • Key content knowledge from the standards
  • Previous standards that are relevant to current learning
  • Standards that complement the next learning cycle

Do any standards complement each other?

Complementary standards usually come from the same domain or strand. They work together to help measure student learning and reduce item counts while offering reliable data.

Not all current standards or their skills/knowledge need to be measured. If classroom assignments provide an adequate view of student achievement, it is not necessary to assess those skills or content.

Get the big picture of learning from multiple sources of data and student work.

Questions guide the plan

  1. What skills or content within the standards need assessment?
  2. What level of difficulty and complexity is appropriate at this time?
  3. Are we taking the test offline or online?
  4. What items are available to use?
  5. How long are we going to give students to complete the test?
  6. How many questions do we need on this assessment?
  7. What types of passages, charts, illustrations, or graphs should we use?

Item counts per standard do not have to be high for classroom assessments. Quality items, along with the right standard mix, will provide enough information about the students.

Modifications and participation decisions

  • Will the test environment and administration be consistent with all students?
  • What modifications will be allowed during the assessment?
  • Do specific students need additional support?

Team assessments typically expect administration for all students with little or no modifications. Expectations and reality do not always match. Without agreed guidelines, the test environment may look different from class to class. Inferences and decisions benefit from consistent administration guidelines.

Do I need this test?

Why do we need this test?

Why am I giving this assessment?
Why am I taking this assessment?

Purpose of the assessment

The purpose of the test is tied to the use of the performance data.

Questions the need

  1. Is this assessment necessary for instruction?
  2. How will students benefit from the test?
  3. Why do we need the performance data?
  4. What are we going to do with the results?
  5. How will the data help students improve learning?
  6. Will the results help future instruction?
  7. How will the feedback help our students?
  8. Are all students expected to take the test?
  9. What accommodations are acceptable?
  10. What intervention will we use to improve future learning?

Six steps to increase the value of your classroom performance data

6 steps for better assessments

  1. Identify learning outcomes students will gain during an instructional cycle. Essential learnings are the skills and content all students must learn. The knowledge will build on the past, and move students to new goals.
  2. Identify the standards, including skills and concepts, which make up learning. Rank the standards by importance, including skills and concepts to focus instruction and assessment.
  3. Design a summative assessment to measure the intended learning. The type of evaluation will vary based on the desired outcome. Create a performance task with embedded formative experiences to allow for adjustments during instruction and provide scaffolding opportunities for targeted students.
  4. Create a diagnostic assessment with important and challenging standards to gauge student preparedness. Do not include standards with skills that are easy to grasp. Recent performance data or work-product also help diagnostic decisions. Look for ways to get the best data with the least amount of time and effort.
  5. Develop a instructional flow, and lesson ideas for the intended learning. It moves actual learning closer to intended learning. As you develop an instructional plan, create potential reteach or intervention points. Adjust the flow once you have some diagnostic data.
  6. Create formative checkpoints to measure learning during instruction, intervention, and reteaching. If you use a performance task, look for parts of the work to use as a formative assessment.