Topic: Assessment Architecture


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



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


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My Journey to Standards-Based Learning

Early on in my career I was a very traditional grader. Homework was scored, retakes weren’t allowed, and I even gave extra credit. I’m not proud of this, but it’s the truth and helped shape the educator I am today. I realize now that I was teaching my students to play the game of school. They were to accumulate the desired amount of points to be rewarded with the grade they were working towards.

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Repacking Standards

By now the process of analyzing and unpacking standards is familiar to most educators. In this era of standards-based instruction, unpacking standards to identify specific learning targets and underpinnings, then organizing those targets and underpinnings into a purposeful learning progression is almost ubiquitous. Read more


Zeroing the scale

As an instructional coach, I have the fortunate opportunity to work with a wide variety of teachers and in various classrooms and content areas. Recently, I worked with a sixth grade science teacher to create and implement a classroom experience that required students to use their problem solving and critical thinking skills. Read more


3 Strikes in Grading Reform

One of the most interesting things about modernizing grading practices is that there is no one-way to go about the work. Sure, there are a few core fundamentals that are non-negotiable (i.e. grades based solely on the achievement of standards), but for the most part, teachers, schools, and districts have much flexibility in going about the business of aligning grading practices to the existing standards-based, criterion-referenced instructional reality. Read more


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Assessment and Emotion

There is something about assessment that provokes strong emotion. You bring up the topic in a room full of teachers and you can feel the energy in the room shift. Similarly, the moment you pull a pile of assessments out of your desk and prepare to return them, students will adjust their posture and conversations halt in readiness for the event. Read more