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ASSESSING for LEARNING. Presented by Suzanne M. Bean, Ph.D. Director, Roger F. Wicker Center for Creative Learning Mississippi University for Women SESSION OUTCOMES. Review the differences between Assessment for Learning and Assessment of Learning

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  • Presented by Suzanne M. Bean, Ph.D.

  • Director, Roger F. Wicker Center for Creative Learning

  • Mississippi University for Women



  • Review the differences between Assessment for Learning and Assessment of Learning

  • Examine Diagnostic, Formative and Summative Assessment

  • Analyze Effective Grading Practices

  • Plan for Training

As teachers we can’t rewrite the regulations that govern grading, but we can look at them and think how best to work within them on behalf of student learning. Ann Davies

We Assess To:

  • Inform Instructional Decisions

  • Encourage Students to Try to Learn


  • Do I routinely share learning goals with my students so that they know where we are headed?

  • Do I routinely communicate the standards to students?

  • Do I routinely have students self-and peer assess their work in ways that improve learning?


  • Do my questioning techniques include all students and promote increased understanding?

  • Do I routinely provide individual feedback to students that informs them about how to improve?

  • Do I routinely provide opportunities for students to make use of this feedback to improve specific pieces of work?

Indicators of Sound Assessment Practice

  • Why assess?

  • Assess what?

  • Assess how?

  • Communicate how?

  • Involve students how?

Questions about Assessment

  • What am I really trying to teach?

  • What do my students need to know and be able to do?

  • How can I translate the big curricular goals into teachable components?

  • What do my students already know about the topic I’m planning to teach?

Table Talk

  • Discuss with your neighbors how your weekly learning time is divided.

Division of Learning Time


  • Diagnostic

  • Formative

  • Summative

Assessment Begins with Learning Targets

  • Learning targets are statements of intended learning.

  • Learning targets may also be called content standards, benchmarks, competencies, grade level indicators, essential learnings, etc.

Types of Learning Targets

  • Knowledge

  • Reasoning

  • Skills

  • Products

  • Dispositions

Importance of Learning Targets

  • The breadth and depth of the learning target

  • The importance of each learning target

  • State standards and local curriculum

Knowledge mastery

Reasoning Proficiency


Ability to Create Products

Selected Response

Extended Written Response

Performance Assessment

Personal Comm.

Linking Assessment Targets to Assessment Methods


  • Does the assessment tool match the assessment purpose?

  • Does the assessment tool match the assessment strategy?

  • Does the assessment tool provide valid and reliable information about student performance?

  • Does the assessment tool provide students with meaningful feedback?

  • Have I kept the number of assessment tools manageable?

Special Challenges for Assessment

  • How should you handle these assessment challenges?


  • Set clear, relevant, and achievable goals for learning (ZPD).

  • Assign engaging and authentic tasks.

  • Provide frequent, meaningful feedback.

  • Demonstrate through words and actions that you believe that he/she (all students) can be successful.


  • Modifying the Task

  • Substituting the Task

  • Adapting the Mode

  • Adapting the Strategy and Tool

  • Adapting Constraints

  • Adapting the Scoring


  • Communicate directly with students and parents about essential assessment tasks.

  • Take a firm but fair approach to task completion.

  • Provide tools such as rubrics, checklists, to clarify expectations.

  • Provide some in-class time to workon tasks as well time to meet with you for feedback on drafts of their work.

  • Provide frequent reminders about when work is due.


  • Stress that all essential tasks must be completed.

  • Clearly convey timelines to students and parents.

  • Don’t use escalating penalties or zeros.

  • If a penalty is used it should be fixed.

  • Use completion contracts, supervised learning centers, or other strategies for completing work.

  • Record an “incomplete” until time for report card.

7 Perspectives on Grading (Forced Choice)

  • Grading is essential for learning.

  • Grading is complicated.

  • Grading is subjective and emotional

  • Grading is inescapable.

7 Perspectives on Grading(Forced Choice)

  • Grading has limited research base.

  • Grading has an emerging consensus about best practice.

  • Grading that is faulty damages students and teachers.

Think, Pair, Share…

  • Look at the next 4 slides

  • Pair up and discuss with your neighbors which of the following 3 questions are lower level thinking, mid-level thinking, and high level thinking.

  • Be prepared to share your thoughts with the whole group.

Measuring Levels of Cognitive Demand

  • Which of the following actions performed by Kenji is the best example of active community service?

    • A. Serving on the recreation board

    • B. Joining a community softball league

    • C. Attending a Labor Day parade

    • D. Subscribing to a local news magazine

Measuring Levels of Cognitive Demand

  • A congressional representative of the U.S. usually acquires office by which of the following methods?

    • A. Appointment by the President.

    • B. Appointment by the Senate.

    • C. Election by presidential cabinet.

    • D. Election by voters.

Measuring Levels of Cognitive Demand

  • A survey of the citizens of Lawnacre revealed that many of them did not vote because they believed that their candidate would be elected by other voters. If this trend continues in upcoming elections in Lawn acre, what will be the most likely result?

Levels of Cognitive Demand Continued

  • A. Candidates will run for reelection less frequently.

  • B. Candidates preferred by a majority of the citizens will continue to be elected into office.

  • C. Candidates will call for more frequents recounts of votes.

  • D. Candidates preferred by a majority of the citizens will not always win elections.


  • Report cards should be based on assessment of learning data, not all assessment data.

  • Report card grades should be based on an appropriate and balanced sample of student work.

  • Report card grades should capture the trend in a student’s achievement over time.

  • Report card grades and anecdotal comments should complement each other and provide a consistent picture of each student’s strengths and needs.


  • Determining report card grades should not strictly be a mathematical calculation.

  • Keep well-maintained records and evidence of work samples to ensure your confidence in standing behind your grades.

  • Report card grades should be based on the most important learning that has occurred, not on those easiest to score.


  • For students with special needs, report card grades must represent fair judgments about students’ strengths and areas of need.

  • Report separately on grades and behavior.

  • Assessment data for report cards must be demonstrated by the individual student and not be distorted by work done in cooperative learning groups.

What is your plan for training your school’s faculty?

  • Your Current Reality

  • Action Plan (What, How, and Who)

  • Timeline (When)

  • Reporting

  • Due to the Center by December 18, 2009

The time has come to de-emphasize traditional grades and to demystify the entire assessment process. We need to focus on the process of learning and the progress of the individual student. Burke


  • Chappuis, S., Stiggins, R.J., Arter, J, & Chappuis J. (2005). Assessment for learning: An action guide for school leaders. Portland, OR: Educational Testing Service.

  • Cooper, D. (2007). Talk about assessment: Strategies and tools to improve learning. Canada: Thomson Nelson.


  • O’Connor, K. (2009). How to grade for learning K-12, Third Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

  • Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappius, J., & Chappius, S., (2006). Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right, using it well. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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