You may already be aware that CA BOCES has been awarded a nearly four hundred thousand dollar grant from New York State Education Department, but do you know how the Teaching is the Core grant is affecting our understanding of assessment design?
For the past three months, the thirteen districts participating in this grant have been looking at their current classroom assessments to see if they have a strong alignment to the Standards. We are also looking to see how assessments are used to inform instruction – the way in which feedback is provided to students during the assessment process; the way in which teachers use the results of the assessments to inform their instructional decisions; and the degree to which assessment results are used to address the needs of diverse learners (including students with disabilities, English language learners, and gifted learners). We are analyzing the timing of classroom assessments – a balanced assessment system should include diagnostic, formative and summative assessments as well as pre/post measures to assess growth. We are also looking at the types of assessments we are giving – are they rigorous and authentic? Do they ask students to recall information, create a product, demonstrate their learning through a performance or explain their thinking processes? What we are discovering is that our current assessments are rarely modified to meet student needs and do not allow students various ways to access content and/or demonstrate their learning. And finally, we are questioning the reliability of our assessments – how do we know if teachers have the same vision for quality and agree while scoring student work?
Most of our work during these first few months focused on assessment audits – looking at assessment artifacts to see if we need to replace, revise or keep our current assessments. The primary purpose of this grant is to support districts in their efforts to improve the quality of all educational assessments, while also reducing the number of assessments that do not contribute to teaching and learning. In addition, this grant can help districts identify and/or develop high-quality assessments already in use for instructional or other curricular purposes that can simultaneously be used for Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) purposes.
As we proceed to phase two of the grant, districts will have multiple opportunities to learn about quality assessment design, how to develop performance-based tasks, designing assessments that increase rigor and authenticity, and protocols for looking at student work to provide meaningful feedback to students and their families.
The districts served through this grant include Allegany-Limestone, Andover, Cuba-Rushford, Genesee Valley, Hinsdale, Olean, Pioneer, Portville, Randolph Academy, Salamanca, Scio, Wellsville, and West Valley. The lead facilitator for this grant is Jennifer Borgioli, Senior Consultant from Learner-Centered Initiatives, Ltd. www.lciltd.org
By: Mary Morris, CA BOCES