ON THE LEVEL # 7 – Sound Assessment Practice

So, levels are going: where have we got to at Loreto in our bid to find a suitable replacement? 

Various assessment principles have been shared within the posts on this blog, and several colleagues have either consequently or incidentally discussed these with me.  Loreto’s assessment principles need to be formalised and published by September these year, and that looks like becoming one of those “summer holiday jobs” we all tend to rack up in this half term term.

Under the aegis of the AlbanTSA, five local schools have met and pooled various ideas on assessment without levels.  We have all agreed to trial various approaches in the coming months.  Here at Loreto, the Maths department has kindly agreed to help with the first trial.  This trial will finish at the end of this term, and we will share the outcomes of this in due course – collating the findings may well be another summer holiday job.

Next term we hope to trial various other ideas in order to help crystalize our thinking, and in order to get a feel for which approach most effectively meets the diverse needs of everyone with a vested interest in assessment – most importantly the pupils themselves. It seems to me that since most people are delivering revised curricula next year, they will need to revisit their methods of assessment anyway, so we might as well kill two birds with one stone.  If you are rethinking your approach, this short paper by Stiggins and Chappuis is well worth a look.  Amongst other things, it contains the following advice on what constitutes sound classroom assessment practice:


1. Clear purposes

Assessment processes and results serve clear and appropriate purposes.

a. Teachers understand who uses classroom assessment information and know their information needs.

b. Teachers understand the relationship between assessment and student motivation and craft assessment experiences to maximize motivation.

c. Teachers use classroom assessment processes and results formatively (assessment for learning).

d. Teachers use classroom assessment results summatively (assessment of learning) to inform someone beyond the classroom about students’ achievement at a particular point in time.

e. Teachers have a comprehensive plan over time for integrating assessment for and of learning in the classroom.


2. Clear targets

Assessments reflect clear and valued student learning targets.

a. Teachers have clear learning targets for students; they know how to turn broad statements of content standards into classroom-level learning targets.

b. Teachers understand the various types of learning targets they hold for students.

c. Teachers select learning targets focused on the most important things students need to know and be able to do.

d. Teachers have a comprehensive plan over time for assessing learning targets.


3. Sound design

Learning targets are translated into assessments that yield accurate results.

a. Teachers understand the various assessment methods.

b. Teachers choose assessment methods that match intended learning targets.

c. Teachers design assessments that serve intended purposes.

d. Teachers sample learning appropriately in their assessments.

e. Teachers write assessment questions of all types well.

f. Teachers avoid sources of mismeasurement that bias results.


4. Effective communication

Assessment results are managed well and communicated effectively.

a. Teachers record assessment information accurately, keep it confidential, and appropriately combine and summarize it for reporting (including grades). Such summary accurately reflects current level of student learning.

b. Teachers select the best reporting option (grades, narratives, portfolios, conferences) for each context (learning targets and users).

c. Teachers interpret and use standardized test results correctly.

d. Teachers effectively communicate assessment results to students.

e. Teachers effectively communicate assessment results to a variety of audiences outside the classroom, including parents, colleagues, and other stakeholders.


5. Student involvement

Students are involved in their own assessment.

a. Teachers make learning targets clear to students.

b. Teachers involve students in assessing, tracking, and setting goals for their own learning.

c. Teachers involve students in communicating about their own learning.

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