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The Most Important Three-Letter Word in Assessment Practice

Think of any group of thirty people whose only commonality is their age. Would it be reasonable to expect that each member of that group has the same ability in mathematics? That they all read at the same level with the same fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary? They all have the same writing ability and can produce high-level prose on any topic? Would they all demonstrate the same self-regulation in social situations? I think we can readily agree it would be folly to make those broad assumptions. Read more


Overcoming the Assessment Practices of our Youth

As a classroom teacher I studied, routinely, how to become a better teacher. I constantly questioned how I could improve instruction so that the students I was teaching could learn at high levels. It was important for me to improve my craft so that I could help my students maximize their potential. When I became a campus administrator I began thinking about my teaching in a different way.

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Self-Assessment: Breaking the Praise-Compliance Cycle

I have been working with a teaching colleague in her first and second grade combined classroom for the last number of months. Together, we have been exploring ways to enhance young learners’ abilities to self-assess. Over a series of lessons, we have focused on inviting students to practice some of the sub-habits needed for self-assessment (I have outlined these habits in a previous blog post). This past week, we were working on the sub-habits of revisiting, revising, analyzing, and decision-making (all important parts of a strong self-assessment process).

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Test-Taking Practice? Is it Good Practice?

Since schools and districts transitioned to using the Common Core standards, I’ve been asked a number of times to show teachers how to write questions similar to the new high stakes tests. For example, PARCC has three different types of ELA items: Evidence-based selected response questions, technology-enhanced constructed response items, and prose-constructed response items.

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Mobilization or Debilitation? Discussing Evidence with Grace and Dignity

“Teacher collaboration in strong professional learning communities improves the quality and equity of student learning, promotes discussions that are grounded in evidence and analysis rather than opinion, and fosters collective responsibility for student success.”

                                                                                                        McLaughlin & Talbert (2006)

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A Profound and Lasting Influence

Have you ever done a quick Google search of the word “formative”? I was inspired when I recently did and read, “serving to form something, especially having a profound and lasting influence on a person’s development.” What exactly is it that we are trying to form through our formative assessment processes? In my classroom, I hope to develop strong, capable learners who take charge of their learning, learn from mistakes, and develop a growth mindset. My hope is that they view assessments as a method of communication between us and see the value in making mistakes and growing from them. Read more



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Their world is real!

Almost every conversation about moving from traditional grading practices to sound grading practices (even standards-based grading) seems to end up with discussions and debates about when students get out into the real world. While I understand the intent of this sentiment and the concern it expresses, this real world conversation can devolve into an overly cynical perspective from which to examine the experiences of our students and seems only to serve as a justification for punitive practices along a very narrow set of circumstances. Read more


Engaging Students in Dialogue

One of the most powerful aspects of effective assessment practice resides in engaging students in dialogue about their learning as a result of the information gathered during the assessment phase. Formative assessments are check-ins throughout a unit of instruction to see how students are progressing. The more engaged our students become in conversations with teachers about their learning, the greater the likelihood that they will experience success. Read more