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Assessment Literacy Module

Assessment Literacy Module

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Assessment Literacy Module

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  1. California Department of Education Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Assessment Literacy Module Unit 5: A Balanced Assessment System

  2. Welcome to Unit 5 The purpose of this unit is to describe the essential characteristics of a balanced assessment system—a system that meets the needs of a variety of users and provides continuous information about student learning.

  3. Learning Objectives for Unit 5 By the end of this unit, participants will be able to: Explain multiple levels of assessments and their purposes. Define and distinguish between formative and summative assessment processes, based on purpose and use. Describe a high-quality, balanced assessment system.

  4. Multiple Levels of Assessment “Assessment is the bridge between teaching and learning—it is only through assessment that we can find out whether what has happened in the classroom has produced the learning we intended.” —Dylan Wiliam2011 Multiple levels of assessment should be used to monitor student learning at different points in the instructional process, as indicated in the “Prepare” phase of the Teaching Assessment Cycle (see handout). Handout Teaching-Assessment Cycle — Phase 1

  5. Multiple Levels of Assessment Multiple levels of assessments are a key characteristic of high-quality, balanced assessment systems. No single assessment can meet all the needs of the variety of users of assessment information. Multiple levels and types of assessments are needed to address the range of decision-making and the purposes or needs of key stakeholders in the system.

  6. Multiple Levels of Assessment A high-quality, balanced assessment system has a range of standards-based, aligned assessments, each having a specific purpose related to student learning over time. Read the following quote and look for key characteristics of a balanced assessment system: “The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium's vision for a new generation assessment system–one that includes a set of balanced components that can be adapted to meet students' needs across participating states–calls for strategic use of a variety of item types and performance events to measure the full range of the CCSS and to ensure accurate assessment of all students, including students with disabilities, English learners, and low and high-performing students.“ —SBAC Executive Summary 2011

  7. Multiple Levels of Assessment Read the Smarter Balanced Executive Summary at 2011/12/Smarter_Balanced_Executive_Summary.pdf

  8. Sources of Assessment Data “A vision for the future is that assessments at all levels—from classroom to state—will work together in a system that is comprehensive, coherent, and continuous. In such a system, assessments would provide a variety of evidence to support educational decision-making. Assessment at all levels would be linked back to the same underlying model of student learning and would provide indications of student growth over time." — Pellegrino, Chudowsky, & Glaser 2001

  9. Sources of Assessment Data The Sources of Assessment Data graphic illustrates how a standards-based assessment system that is comprehensive, coherent, and continuous might look. Such a system is described as “A range of assessments, from minute-by-minute to the annual state assessments, providing different levels of detail about student learning over time to be used for various decision-making purposes” (Heritage 2010). Source: Heritage 2010

  10. Sources of Assessment Data As Margaret Heritage explains in Formative Assessment, Making it Happen in the Classroom (2010), each level of assessment assesses “different sized chunks of learning, providing information on the degree to which students have progressed toward meeting specific instructional learning targets and, ultimately, to mastery of the content standard.”

  11. Sources of Assessment Data How do the sources of data represented in the graphic relate to the data sources you currently use in your classroom? Which of the multiple levels of assessment data are available to you to guide classroom instruction? Source: Heritage 2010

  12. Effective, Appropriate Use of Assessments and Assessment Data The effective, appropriate use of assessments and assessment data is another characteristic of high-quality, balanced assessment systems, as indicated in Phases 2 through 4 of the Teaching Assessment Cycle (see handout). Assessment data from any level of assessment is of no value if it is not used to adjust systems or classroom practices to enhance student learning. Handout Teaching-Assessment Cycle: Phases 2‒4

  13. Effective, Appropriate Use of Assessments and Assessment Data See how an eighth grade math teacher uses a daily warm-up activity to gather assessment data that she immediately uses to guide her classroom instruction. As you watch, think about how you might apply this strategy in your classroom. "My Favorite No: Learning from Mistakes" routine?fd=1%20%20%208th

  14. Categorizing Different Types of Assessments One common way of categorizing the different types of assessments used to meet the information needs of key stakeholders in the educational system is to distinguish between summative and formative assessment processes. The distinction between the two processes is based on the purpose of the assessment and on how the information gathered is to be used rather than on the content or administration of the assessment. The next sections explore each of these assessment types, examining the purpose and use of the information they yield.

  15. Summative Assessment: Assessment of Learning The purpose of summative assessment is to gather evidence of student achievement after instruction has been completed. These assessments are used to determine the extent to which students have achieved mastery on specified learning outcomes at a given point in time.

  16. Summative Assessment: Assessment of Learning Summative assessments may include more than end-of-year statewide assessments. They also may include any assessment that is given at the end of instruction (chapter, unit, quarterly, end of course). Summative data is often used for assigning grades, certifying student attainment of instructional objectives, and/or determining eligibility for programs or advancement. The data may also be used to evaluate system-level program effectiveness.

  17. Summative Assessment: Assessment of Learning Refer again to the Sources of Assessment Data graphic to identify which of the assessment levels you consider to be used most often as summative assessments. Think about how the data from these assessments is typically used at classroom, school, or district levels. Source: Heritage 2010

  18. Summative Assessment: Assessment of Learning Remember—it is how the data from the assessment is used that is the key factor in determining if it is a summative or formative process. Identify specific summative assessments that you administer in your classroom. List those assessments and describe how their results are used. Source: Heritage 2010

  19. Formative Assessment Practices and Tools: Assessment for Learning Watch a video clip of Dylan Wiliam discussing the process of formative assessment. Consider how this information relates to components of the Sources of Assessment Data graphic. “Formative assessment - Dylan Wiliam”

  20. Defining Formative Assessment Practices The Formative Assessment for Students and Teachers (FAST) group adopted the following definition of formative assessment: "Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students' achievement of intended instructional outcomes" (2008). Review the Attributes of Effective Formative Assessment at

  21. Defining Formative Assessment Practices According to Dr. W. James Popham, key elements of the FAST definition are: Formative assessment is a process, not any particular test. It is used not just by teachers but by both teachers and students. Formative assessment takes place during instruction. It provides assessment-based feedback to teachers and students. The function of this feedback is to help teachers and students make adjustments that will improve students’ achievement of intended curricular aims. — Transformative Assessment 2008

  22. Defining Formative Assessment Practices In this video clip, classroom teachers discuss the value of the formative assessment process in their classrooms. Note specific examples of formative assessment practices that the teachers describe. “The Formative Classroom”

  23. Defining Formative Assessment Practices Identify which of the assessment levels you consider to be most often used in the formative assessment process. Think about how the data from these assessments is typically used at classroom, school, or district levels. Source: Heritage 2010

  24. Defining Formative Assessment Practices These video clips show teachers describing and implementing minute-by-minute and daily formative assessment strategies. As you view, note formative practices that you might apply in your own classroom. “Formative Assessment In 3rd Grade Math” “Formative Assessment In 11th Grade Biology” +000175

  25. Defining Formative Assessment Practices Based on the videos you have viewed on formative assessment practices, take a moment to apply their content to your own classroom practices: 1. What assessment methods (Selected Response, Constructed Response, Performance Task) did you observe being used in the video clips? 2. In what ways did these video examples expand or change your understanding of the formative assessment process? 3. What formative practices from these examples could you apply in your own classroom?

  26. Students’ Role in the Formative Assessment Process For an assessment process to truly be formative, learners must be active participants in the process, using information from the assessment experience to determine next steps on their learning path. The following slides contain quotes about the students' role in formative assessment practices. As you read them, consider the implications for your classroom practice and the ways assessment-literate educators might engage students as described by the authors.

  27. Students’ Role in the Formative Assessment Process Teacher’s Role in Formative Assessment “We have learned more clearly that interactive dialogue, between teacher and learners and between learners themselves, is at the heart of formative practice and that such practice should enrich the central task of teachers. That task is to engineer learning opportunities so that learners can become more expert and more responsible in guiding and furthering their own learning.” —Black & Wiliam 2009

  28. Students’ Role in the Formative Assessment Process Formative Assessment That Improves Learning • “There is increasing agreement that assessment improves learning when it is used to support five key strategies in learning: • Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success • Engineering classroom discussions, activities, and tasks that elicit evidence of student achievement • Providing feedback that moves learning forward • Activating students as learning resources for one another • Activating students as owners of their own learning” • — Wiliam 2011

  29. Students’ Role in the Formative Assessment Process The authors of Leading the Way to Making Classroom Assessment Work identify positive research outcomes when students are involved in assessing their own learning. These include: All students show gains, and lowest achieving students show the largest gains overall. Mistakes become feedback that students can use to adjust their learning activities and strategies. They make active choices about their learning, which has been demonstrated to increase achievement. They have to think about their own learning and talk about their understanding, which adds to their learning. Their self-assessments help teachers to design instruction to better meet the needs of learners. —Davies, Herbst, & Reynolds 2008

  30. Students’ Role in the Formative Assessment Process To learn more about what the research says about student involvement in the assessment process, visit Transforming Assessment: An Online Resource for Teachers at

  31. Peer Assessment Peer assessment can also play a critical role in the effectiveness of formative assessment practices. As you watch this video clip, think about some potential benefits of peer assessment. “Self and peer assessment - Dylan Wiliam” selfandpeerassessmentdylanwiliam.asp

  32. Value of Peer Assessment As you read this quote from an article titled, “Working Inside the Black Box,” think about your own students and the opportunities you might provide for peer assessment. “In practice, peer assessment turns out to be an important complement to self-assessment. Peer assessment is uniquely valuable because students may accept criticisms of their work from one another that they would not take seriously if the remarks were offered by a teacher. Peer work is also valuable because the interchange will be in a language that students themselves naturally use and because students learn by taking the roles of teachers and examiners of others." —Black & Wiliam 2004

  33. Formative and Summative Assessments Read the vignettes handout and decide if each scenario describes formative assessment practices, summative assessment, or a combination of both. Describe the rationale for your decision, including specific evidence from the vignette that contributed to your decision. Handout Vignettes

  34. Formative and Summative Assessments “Structured Pair-Work” is an example of: __Formative assessment __Summative assessment X Both Rationale with evidence: The teacher is providing students with multiple practice opportunities to answer questions and receive feedback from peers, both formative practices. Students are given an opportunity to revise their answers following the dialogue and feedback process, also a formative assessment practice. Finally, students turn in their final product for grading, a summative assessment of their work.

  35. Formative and Summative Assessments “District Test” is an example of: __Formative assessment X Summative assessment __Both Rationale with evidence: The assessment is given at the end of every quarter to gather data to present to the local board and parents as a status report. This assessment is not used by teachers to adjust instruction or by students to adjust their learning tactics.

  36. Formative and Summative Assessments “Middle School Science” is an example of: __Formative assessment __Summative assessment X Both Rationale with evidence: The teacher had students involved in the revision/development process of the scoring tool through analysis and discussion. During the year, students used the criteria list that they had helped to create as a tool for guiding and evaluating their own work on lab reports. Peer evaluation was also used so that students received feedback from a peer on their draft lab reports. All of these are formative assessment practices. Students were required to turn in their final copy of the lab report for teacher grading (summative).

  37. Formative and Summative Assessments “Language Arts, Lower Elementary” is an example of: __Formative assessment __Summative assessment X Both Rationale with evidence: The teacher used the formative practices of giving meaningful feedback to students (both teacher and peer) and using structured dialogue between students to further discuss feedback during the learning process. The teacher continued to provide students with feedback as they worked on revisions of their articles (formative practice). After repeated cycles of dialogue and feedback, the students turned in the final copies of their articles for grading, which was a summative assessment of their work, at the end of the learning process.

  38. Formative Assessment Practices To gain a deeper understanding of formative assessment practices, review Dylan Wiliam's article, "What Assessment Can — and Cannot — Do” at

  39. Summary of Unit 5 Multiple levels and types of assessments are used by assessment-literate educators to address the range of decision-making purposes and needs of key stakeholders in the system. A high-quality, balanced assessment system has a range of standards-based, cohesive assessments, each with a specific purpose relating to student learning over time. Assessments in a balanced system are aligned to content standards, providing continuous information on students’ progress toward specific learning targets.

  40. Summary of Unit 5 Respond to the questions below to check your understanding of the ideas in Unit 5: 1. What is the purpose and value of using multiple levels of assessment when gathering data about student learning? 2. Describe at least three key characteristics of the formative assessment process. 3. What is the primary distinction between formative and summative assessment? 4. What is the purpose and value of student involvement in the assessment process? 5. Describe one or two ways you might include additional self-assessment and peer-assessment activities in your classroom and what impact those activities might have on student learning. 6. Describe a balanced assessment system. What components would it include?