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Achievement—It’s More Than a Number

Post 1 of 4 on Using Assessment to Improve Achievement

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.
Einstein

The primary mission of schools is to help kids learn. That’s it. That’s the bottom line. It stands to reason, then, that the primary indicator of success will always be achievement scores. But our work with making decisions about learners must remain far more humane then making decisions about learners based on a set of cold, calculated scores (and it doesn’t matter if those data come from the grades in our gradebooks or external test scores). The measure of achievement should never mask the face of the learner. This is personal. And, it’s very serious work. Read more


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Why Assess?

The question of “Why Assess?” is one that is posed in schools and districts everywhere. It’s important to challenge educators to think about their assessment practice and how they derive information about student progress. If the purpose of assessment is merely to rank and sort, then little needs to change from the assessment practices of previous generations. If, instead, the purpose is to focus on student learning, then educators need to examine whether their current practice is aligned with that outcome. Read more


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Developing the Sub-Habits of Self-Assessment

The ultimate goal is assessment as learning, where assessment occurs in real time and is the process by which people reflect on their own thinking and diagnose how they’ve changed.
Sir Ken Robinson (2015)

In a previous blog post, I shared conditions that support an environment of habitual and authentic student self-assessment. This post will focus on “digging deeper” into why students may find self-assessment a challenging enterprise and how to develop the sub-habits that support this essential skill. Read more


Powerful New Book Promotes Collaborative Assessment Practices

This is a guest post by Kelly Rockhill, Solution Tree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bloomington, Ind. (January 25, 2016)—Solution Tree, a premier educational publisher and professional development provider, announces the release of a powerful new book that seeks to reinvigorate teaching and learning through collaborative assessment practices.

In Collaborative Common Assessments: Teamwork. Instruction. Results., author Cassandra Erkens outlines the practical steps teacher teams must take to establish clear, comprehensive assessment systems that guide instruction and strengthen professional learning communities. “When common assessments are developed and employed properly, as a collaborative, formative system aimed at improving learning for teachers and learners alike,” writes Erkens in the introduction, “the gains in teacher efficacy and student achievement can be staggering.” Read more


Self-Assessment: Yes, but…

While student self-assessment is not a brand new concept, it has emerged as an essential aspect of effective formative assessment strategies and processes. There is general consensus that self-assessment is positive and has many benefits for students, but it is seldom implemented in many classrooms (Brown & Harris, 2013). Read more


Effective Feedback—Inspiring our Students

Last week when I picked up my 5-year old daughter from gymnastics I asked how she did. She excitedly replied, “My teacher said I did a good job with my forward rolls, and I need to start working on my strong arms and straight legs in my cartwheels.” During previous weeks, we had similar conversations and had gone home with a clear goal in mind. Read more


Assessment and Hope: Not an Oxymoron

The words assessment and hope are not often used in the same sentence. The mere mention of the word assessment can cause stress and angst.  At the Assessment Center we aim to change that visceral reaction. At its core, assessment fosters hope, builds efficacy, and increases achievement (Shepard, 2000; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011; Brookhart, 2013; Andrade, 2010; Hattie & Timperely, 2007; Brown & Harris, 2013). Read more


Leading for Assessment Literacy

It isn’t about grades. We must stop focusing our conversations on grading and what a paradigm shift it is to grade based upon standards. Certainly we have been grading “against standards” for years, otherwise against what measure are we grading? The purpose of assessment, and the importance of the proper use of it, is about educating the children of today and ensuring that they are ready for life beyond high school. Read more


Observation as Assessment and Feedback

My sister was helping out in her Kindergartener’s classroom. I had previously shared with her a bit about my work and passion in helping teachers use assessment to see students as possible and then tap that information to engage them to learn.  She wondered if her story had anything to do with my work.  It is an incredible example of the kind of observations that changes students’ lives. Read more


Response to Intervention: Start with Effective Tier 1 Instruction

As with most innovations in education, we start by questioning before embracing new ideas.  We think critically about the benefits that the change has to offer and will engage in vigorous debates as we begin the implementation process.  When changes start to become part of our school culture, we can often lose the rationale and core essentials of what is most important related to the new practice.  Read more