February 23: Developing Assessments

This weeks class focused on stage 1 themes to prepare us to look toward assessment!

How well do you understand Stage 1?
To answer this question we were all asked to write, then post on the bulletin board, our stage 1 questions/observations.  Our questions/observations were used to create the four emergent themes/core big ideas, which were:

  1. Relationship Questions – levels of essentialness
  2. Relationships between objectives and “knowledge & skills”
  3. Where do the standards fit? –>Goals and understandings
  4. Development of knowledge & skills

Picture 1: Four Emergent Themes/Core Big Ideas

Picture 2: Our questions/observations that fit under theme one and theme two

Picture 3: Our questions/observations that fit under theme two and theme three

100_5479 by chrisboy.

Picture 4: Our questions/observations that fit under theme four and after theme four

100_5480 by chrisboy.

Picture 5: Our questions/observations that come after theme four

100_5481 by chrisboy.

Just in case the pictures 1-5 do not show up, please use the following link to view all pictures: Pictures from Feb. 23 Class

Stage 2: Assessment
What makes some assessments weak and others strong?

Limited to a single test
Vague criteria
Assessing what is easy
Engaging (without substance)
Invalid or unreliable

Aligns with goals
Includes performance assessments
Moves beyond knowledge to understanding
(transfer task)
Gets to all six facets of understanding

Determining “Big Ideas” from this weeks readings on assessment!
(The following three paragraphs were co-constructed in class.  Each has a topic sentence followed by sentences that either clarify, ground in the literature, or consider implication for future work)

Authentic assessment is good.  Really good.  It is not assessment of learning but assessment for/as learning.  Authentic assessment assesses the development of learning, not just the result.  It also does this for all learning styles, because there are multiple routes to success.  Assessing these multiple routes allows any student and teacher the opportunity to experience and identify with success.

Assessment should be varied and valid as well as authentic.  Wiggins and McTighe (2005) recommend using a wide range of assessment types.  As teachers we must assure that our assessments serve a range of learning styles that provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding.  We should give our students a space to do science not recite it.  Authentic assessment generally involves allowing our students to grapple with the real-world problems adults face every day.  Geared towards outcomes not activities.

Authentic assessments should be aligned with objectives.  Assessments need to measure the understandings of students in order to ensure validity.  Teachers must be careful to ensure that the assessment of understanding is not confounded with language ability or art ability or other skills.  Assessments should also be student driven to ensure student input.  Assessments should be designed and weighted to encourage students to learn, instead of focusing on when they learn.  Earl ( 2003) presents these concepts in the form of a reconfigured assessment pyramid.  In this pyramid, emphasis is placed on ongoing student self assessment as learning, to enable successful summative assessment of learning.

Oakes and Lipton (2007) chapter 6

  • Authentic, alternative assessments may vary, granted that the assessments allow students a variety of alternate paths to success.
  • Day-in and day-out assessment practices used by teachers include such examples as; debates, drawing “mind maps”, portfolios with reflections, writing letters to CEO’s, role playing, constructing collages and journal entries that encourage informal and comfortable dialogues between teacher and student.

Earl (2003)

  • The three forms of assessment: assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning are all intricately related to student learning and understanding.
  • The danger of designing or implementing assessments of learning as the primary assessment lies within the fact that assessments of learning results are used primarily for comparison between students.
  • Major differences between assessment for learning and assessment as learning include; assessment for learning is typically used as an indicator for teachers while assessment as learning is used as a self-check for student learning, assessment for learning is a type of formative assessment while assessment as learning takes on more then one form, assessment for learning is teacher-driven while assessment as learning is student-driven, and assessment for learning record-keeping contains artifacts and portfolios while assessment as learning record-keeping is co-constructed between student and teacher and may contain numerous self-reflections.

Wiggins and McTighe (2005) chapters 7 & 8

  • To think like an assessor means you use backwards design to assess evidence of understanding with respect to desired outcomes as opposed to a way of calculating grades.
  • Important to incorporate the six facets of understanding (explanation, interpretation, application, perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge) when designing authentic, alternative assessments.
  • The following is true about criteria … should highlight the most important learning achievement of the students and should be independent, yet also interrelated for a given assignment
  • Rubrics make the criteria clear to learners by outlining the criteria used to judge student work along a continuum.
  • Validity is primarily about what you make of a given assessment.  To ensure validity of self-designed assessments be careful about what you can and cannot claim about a student’s understanding on a particular assessment.

Pluses and Arrows for this weeks quiz:
(+) options – choose one question from the following two
(+) co-constructing paragraphs was a fun way to facilitate discussion after quiz
(–>) be careful of double negative – questions that asks “which is least likely” and one of the answers is “none of the above”


  • ADD your elevator pitch to our class blog
  • Final versions of discipline paper DUE
  1. March 9 (Donna, Heather, Thomas, Andrea, Debbie, Sean and Mike)
  2. March 16 (Anne, Alicia, Ashley, Kathryn, Suzanne, Dylan, Jim, and Emily)
  • Check out the following innovative resources
  1. Molecular Workbench
  2. Earth Science Picture of the Day
  • Check out the UNIT PLANS already posted under Course Resources to the left

Additional Resources

Check out the following for additional information on authentic assessments

  1. Authentic Assessment Toolbox

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