Answer important questions with performance data
An assessment outline or blueprint answers instructional questions. A good plan will create assessments telling a story and providing feedback 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?
Team or program assessments planned for a purpose improve instructional decisions and target learning opportunities, benefitting teachers and students.
Purpose of data defines the assessment.
The purpose and use of performance data define the type of assessment.
For example, a predictive test mirrors the style and standard set from an important summative assessment. Assessments used for grading reflect current classroom instructional standards and include the type and style of content currently taught in the classroom.
Blueprint questions outline and define the assessment
What standards tell us what we want to know about our students?
- important current standards
- standards without recent data
- skills needed in future learning
Not all current standards or skills need inclusion on assessments.
Evaluate the need to assess standards you already have enough information from the students.
Do any standards complement each other?
Complementary Standards usually come from the same domain or strand. Identifying complementary standards reduces item counts and exam time while providing useful data. A few items for a piece of specific knowledge or complementary skills will give indications on students learning, just not at a psychometric level similar to a high stakes assessment.
Define instructional needs
- What skills or knowledge within the standards need assessing?
- What level of difficulty 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 acceptable performance data to improve learning and instruction.
Taking online or offline?
Online versions of an assessment will allow for different item types. Online can be good or bad, depending on available technology, and the quality of the online item. Evaluations that are going to analyzed by a team or department should either be online or offline, not a mixed 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
Modifications and participation
- Will all students take the assessment?
- Are we going to allow modifications to the test?
- Do we provide any additional support to specific students?
Team or department assessments usually expect administration for all students with little or no modifications, but expectations and reality do not always match. Without guidelines, the test environment may look different from class to class. If you want quality inferences from the performance data, make sure the team has guidelines to follow for participation and modifications.