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Perfection Isn’t the Objective; Clarity Is!

Accurate assessment design can effectively leverage our ability to deeply understand a student’s next steps in their learning. As we gather evidence about what students know and can do, we can utilize that information to better determine what a student does know as well as which areas are still difficult for them to master. Yet talking about and planning for assessment design can be a challenging endeavor, especially when this kind of work was never part of our schooling or training. Read more


Assessment in Action: Lessons from Learning to Snowmobile

It was a warm winter day. Snow was falling and my 8-year old was ready to ride the youth snowmobile. I was determined that he was going to learn to do this. While Chase loves to “drive,” he is more concerned with everything around him than the road right in front of him. He watched his older brother jump on and thought that he should be able to ride as fast as he does. Read more


Achievement – High Expectations for All

Post 2 of 4 on Using Assessment to Improve Achievement

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them
Einstein

As noted in my first post of this series regarding using assessment to support achievement, the primary mission of schools is to help kids learn. Schools write mission statements toward that same end:  all students will be successful. But, have those mission statements become routine and somewhat cliché?   Read more


Productive Failure

One of the most challenging sales job that we as educators may ever have to make is related to the idea of productive failure.  Productive failure is included in our tenets of effective assessment practices as a component of a learning rich culture along with risk taking and celebrating success.  Failure seems to be hard-wired into our brains as a negative and something to be avoided at all costs.  Our job as educators is to recognize this perception and work to correct it. Read more


Standards Based Grading as a Game Changer

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

Why should I make a change in my grading practices? What difference does it make moving to a standards based system from a traditional one? Given the current climate of education with initiative after initiative piling up, why is this endeavor worthy of my time and consideration? Read more


Powerful New Book Advocates Rethinking Grading Practices

This is a guest post by Kelly Rockhill, Solution Tree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bloomington, Ind. (March 4, 2016)—Solution Tree, a premier educational publisher and professional development provider, has announced the release of Grading From the Inside Out: Bringing Accuracy to Student Assessment Through a Standards-Based Mindset. This new book by Tom Schimmer provides educators with active steps to positively change grading and reporting in their classrooms. Read more


Simplifying Common Assessments

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with collaborative teams at meetings where they are discussing the results of their common formative assessments and planning how they will respond to the information from them. In some of these situations, I’ve been asked to work with teams who are frustrated by a process that they see as being overly cumbersome and complex, as well as not very helpful in their work. Read more


Engaging in Instructional Agility by Trusting Ourselves

The other day, I was sitting with a colleague after we had facilitated a reading intervention lesson with four grade six students. It had been a lively hour, with the students finding it difficult to engage in writing about reading after we had spent time reinforcing comprehension. They needed to be reminded often to focus on the task and apply their understanding of the text in written form.  We discussed these challenges and proposed reasons why the students were finding the work difficult. Read more


Diving Into Common Assessment

Are you ready to take the plunge? Is the water too cold or too warm?  Do you take a tentative step with the big toe or throw caution to the wind and commit to an adventurous leap – uncertain of the outcome? Either works, depending on your style, whether in swimming, living, or building common assessments. Read more


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Most Recent? Most Frequent? Most Accurate?

One of the fundamental tenets of standards-based grading is that greater (if not exclusive) emphasis is placed on the more recent evidence of learning. For years now, the consensus among both experts and practitioners is that the combination of old and new evidence (most often via calculating a mean average) distorts the accuracy of reported achievement levels (O’Connor, 2011; Guskey, 2015; Reeves, 2015). As students move through their natural learning trajectories, they should be given full credit for their learning, regardless of how low or slow the start. Read more