SUPPORTING LEARNING WITH MEANINGFUL ASsESSMENT

“A highly developed assessment system includes a balanced approach to using formal and informal assessments, classroom-based evidence showing growth over time, and involving students in the evaluation of their own work.”
PDE Roadmap for Leaders

THE ASSESSMENT CYCLE

Share, Share, Share… This assessment cycle has been used in the past and it is focused around the idea that we should be sharing outcomes, analyses, and reflections with our students and stakeholders throughout the entire cycle.  The CDT, for example, is a tool that has employed this cycle.  It is a diagnostic tool that can provide much more than a standardized score when we engage with the data in a purposeful way.

The power in this graphic comes from completing each and every step of the cycle.  As teachers, we often focus on two steps: the Assessment and the Instruction.  Rightfully so, but there is a lot of power in completing a proper diagnosis of what our assessments are telling us through Analysis and Interpretation.  This informs our future instruction and leads to a much more meaningful phase of Reflection.

Assess

Schools should have a well-articulated plan that describes the assessment tools that will be used at various grade levels across the district. Various assessment tools (progress monitoring, benchmark), results of observations, or other formative data can be used on a regular basis to make important decisions about classroom instruction, grouping, and materials.

Analyze and Interpret

Analyzing data requires that it be organized in ways that make it easy to understand and interpret. Schools can identify specific professionals (e.g., data analysts, literacy coaches, psychologists) to put the data into charts or graphs, perhaps by grade level.

The information gained from interpretation is used to inform instruction. Generally, this interpretation is made by teachers who can identify areas of strength and academic need. Teachers may also present other data (from classroom observations or informal measures) that can be used to validate current results and conclusions. They can make plans about how to use those results to plan instruction. They may also consider the need for additional assessments for specific students, including careful observations in the classroom or additional formative assessments. Interpretation generally occurs during a data team.

Resources TO SUPPORT EFFECTIVE ASSESSMENT

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The 2020–21 school year presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges due to the disruption to instruction in spring 2020 as well as the uncertainty as the school year unfolds. Educators know that every school year there are students who require support in addressing unfinished learning from prior grades, a challenge that will be felt more prominently in the 2020–21 school year. Since time is a scarce commodity in classrooms — made more limited by anticipated closures and remote or hybrid learning models in the fall of 2020 — strategic instructional choices about which content to prioritize must occur.

These guidance documents are designed to identify and define areas of high-level focus in content areas supported by key PA Academic Standards. Note that while all standards deserve a defined level of instruction, neglecting key concepts may result in learning gaps in student skill and understanding and may leave students unprepared for the challenges of a later grade.

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As schools adapt and adjust to changes in instructional delivery, dynamic curricula, and innovative programs to enrich student learning, assessments can guide educators toward focused teaching by identifying unmet needs and defining effective instruction.

This protocol provides a process for an individual teacher or teacher teams to maximize instructional resources, within and/or across classrooms, as well as finding a starting point for accelerated learning for all students. 

Free to use tools

*UPDATED* SAS Assessment Center

A new Standards Aligned System (SAS) Assessment Center launched this year and offers educators the ability to create customized benchmark, formative, and summative assessments by selecting standards-aligned items from the SAS item bank or by creating test questions utilizing the SAS step-by-step process. Tests can be custom designed and revised as needs dictate.

Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT)

The CDT is a set of online content area assessments designed to provide diagnostic information regarding students’ strengths and weaknesses.  The CDT reporting system is fully integrated into SAS. The diagnostic reports feature easy‐to‐follow links to targeted curricular resources and materials, including units and lesson plans.

Contact Me

If you have questions about these resources, or other topics related to Continuity of Education, please feel free to reach out!

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Brandon Langer serves as the Program Administrator of Instructional Technology at MCIU where he oversees the Montgomery Virtual Program and supports the integration of instructional technology in the Office of Professional Learning. As a former teacher and an instructional coach, Brandon has conducted numerous professional development sessions centered around technology applications and integrating student-centered instruction into the classroom. He has also worked closely with fine and performing arts teachers throughout the northeast to create and advocate for arts programs and modernize arts assessment practices. His passion for student success is grounded in his belief that teachers, not the computer, are the most powerful asset in the classroom today.

Brandon is the host of the OPL Podcast from MCIU and has earned a Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Delaware and a Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Arkansas State University. He is a regular participant in many online PLN Twitter chats and can be followed @BrandonLanger.