By: Dr. Gregory W. Betts
One of the five elements of personalized learning at Westside Community Schools is being Data Informed. We use the definition of Data Informed as “Using student learning information to make specific decisions about learner growth related to an instructional standard”. This can be Formative Assessment Data (For Learning) or Summative Assessment Data (Of Learning). Intentional use of data is essential for knowing your student and making the correct instructional and emotional decisions for students to maximize student engagement and achievement.
Charlotte Danielson’s “The Framework for Teaching: Evaluation Instrument:2013 Edition makes the following statements in connection with student data and decision making that support WCS’s Personalized Learning Philosophy.
Domain 1: Planning and Preparation:
(1b) “In order to ensure student learning, therefore, teachers must know not only their content and its related pedagogy but also the students to whom they wish to teach that content.”
(1f) Designing Student Assessments – “Good teaching requires both assessment of learning and assessment for learning. Assessments of learning ensure that teachers know that students have learned the intended outcomes. These assessments must be designed in such a manner that they provide evidence of the full range of learning outcomes; that is, the methods needed to assess reasoning skills are different from those of factual knowledge……..Assessments for learning enables a teacher to incorporate assessment directly into the instructional process and to modify or adapt instruction as need to ensure student understanding.”
Domain 3: Instruction
(3d) Using Assessment in Instruction – “Assessment of student learning plays an important new role in teaching: no longer signaling the end of instruction, it is now recognized to be an integral part of instruction”.
Teacher proficiency coupled with District systems of support provides a culture of data-informed decision making maximizing student engagement and achievement.
District, state, and local assessments are among the multiple measures that help us to understand learning. Other important measures include school processes and programs, demographics, and perceptions and values. All of these measures must be considered together to help us know whether we are reaching every student. However unless we use data at the classroom and student levels, it is useless!
There are two basic purposes of assessment: assessment FOR learning and assessment OF learning. Assessment FOR learning occurs during the process of learning. Assessment OF learning occurs after learning has taken place. Sometimes these are referred to as “formative” and “summative” purposes. A balanced system is committed to both. Characteristics of Assessment FOR Learning (formative):
- Is planned and purposeful
- Provides insight for improvement, diagnosing needs, and supporting learning
- Occurs during the learning process
- Tells students about themselves
- Information for students, parents and teachers
- Standards are transformed into learning targets for students
- Students self-assess, track progress and set goals
- Examples: using rubrics for descriptive feedback for improvement; tickets out the door; daily checks for learning.
There are some basic premises for using assessment FOR learning as a tool for improvement: Characteristics of Assessment OF Learning (summative):
- Occurs after learning has taken place
- Tells others about student learning
- Used for sorting, selecting and grading
- Tests are designed to judge whether standards have been met
- Students strive for a score
- Examples: state tests, final exams, placement tests, unit tests
Whether assessments are used for formative or summative purposes, there are some basic sources of data used in schools. Some assessments are given annually, others may be given on an interim basis, and some are used at the point of instruction in the classroom for immediate feedback.
Annual Accountability Tests
These tests are designed to give annual information about how well districts or schools are doing on a set of standards and are reported to a state or federal agency. They can be either criterion-referenced* or norm-referenced* and are always given under standardized conditions.
Interim Benchmarks and Screens
A screener is a brief, efficiently administered, reliable measures intended to measure broad academic skills & predict future performance. For example, the AIMSweb Reading-Curriculum Based Measurement (R-CBM) screener measures the ability to decode words and read accurately, fluently, and with prosody. It is highly correlated with reading comprehension, as it serves to identify early reading difficulties that may have an impact on comprehension. These screeners are used to monitor progress for students outside the range of typical development. Assessment screeners are generally norm-referenced and given under standardized conditions.
Classroom assessments are designed and used specifically for feedback on learning. Classroom assessments are given day-to-day, or an even minute-to-minute and include student self-assessment and peer assessment. Any assessment given at the point of instruction in the classroom is a source of immediate feedback for both the teacher and the student. Classroom assessments may also provide summative data for the purposes of grading and reporting. A classroom assessment may or may not be standardized.
These tests are built to measure the degree to which a student has met a learning goal or standard.
These tests are designed to compare a student or group of students to a
national, state or local sample of student work.