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Plan Student Assessment With Common Core in Mind

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By Catherine (Kate) Garrison, author for the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) and director of professional development with Measured Progress

With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), many educators are concerned about the impact on assessment. The following are suggestions for successfully assessing students with the Common Core in mind.

Be sure to take the time to review the CCSS website and review your state and district documents with colleagues to ensure you are accurately implementing the new standards with the appropriate instruction.

Keep up your good classroom assessment practices — the actual techniques do not change with new standards. You want to make sure you are assessing at the correct cognitive rigor.

Plan your formative assessments far enough ahead to ensure you have accurate evidence of students' needs for differentiation and intervention. Remember to assess with purpose and use the results. The last thing any teacher wants to do is overload students with unnecessary testing!

Here are a few questions to consider:

  1. Is my instruction aligned to the learning expectations of the Common Core?
  2. What is the expected performance level of the intended targeted learning?
  3. What is the best way to determine if students learned the intended targeted learning? For example: Lower cognitive demand can be assessed with a quick check while deeper cognitive demand requires longer assessment types like a performance task, writing a longer response, or showing math computation/problem solving.
  4. How am I checking for understanding during instruction, i.e., using formative checks?
  5. How am I involving students in the learning process with feedback?
  6. How often do I use summative assessment for grading purposes?
  7. Do I balance the summative assessments with plenty of formative opportunities to provide feedback to students and identify and erase misconceptions?

Utilizing your team time or professional learning communities is another way to ensure you are gathering sound evidence of student learning. When you share your results with your teaching peers, you gain from their insights, and as a team, you then come to agreement on what proficiency looks like. Both teachers and students will benefit from time spent discussing assessment results.

Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.

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