Clarifying the Complexity of Assessments

In the middle school’s PD this week, there was a focus on Formative Assessments.                  A topic that is very applicable beyond the middle school.

Assessment is Complex 

The term assessment is used to describe a multitude of learning activities.  As teachers, we assess our students in many different ways each day.  These include assessments such as: exit tickets, drafts of reports, discussions, and final learning assessments. These assessments are common because they are all designed to give feedback on student learning. However, the specific purposes for the assessments and the feedback provided on the assessments are varied.  Because of these variations, assessment is complex.

To help clarify the complexity of assessments, we designed this model with the intent that it would assist in identifying the types and purposes of assessments, and in turn, provide a common structure for understanding the complexities of assessment.  We see this model as a potentially useful tool for facilitating conversations around assessments with your colleagues and your students.

Tiers of Standard-Based Assessment System

I found this article by Rick Stiggins, Assessment for Learning: An Essential Foundation of Productive Instruction, to be extremely valuable for bringing further clarity to the complexities of assessment.  The focus of this piece is on the construction of quality assessments.  Here is quick snapshot from the chapter:

The Keys of Assessment Quality

  • “Start with a clear purpose for assessment–a sense of why you are assessing and for which standard.
  • Include a clear learning target–a vision of what you need to assess in relation to your standards.
  • Design an assessment that accurately reflects the targeted standard and satisfies the purpose.
  • Communicate results effectively to the intended user(s).”

(The excerpt above was adapted from the Rick Stiggins chapter mentioned above.)