S is for Standards that focus on clear learning targets (see October 23 post).
A is for Assessment as indicators to monitor student progress and drive instruction.
Once teachers have determined the standard and broken it up into the essential learning components (concepts and skills), the next step is assessment. It is crucial that assessment come next in order to develop an aligned and effective curriculum. Many teachers skip this step and jump ahead to curriculum content and instructional strategies. Doing this creates curriculum misalignment. The result of curriculum misalignment may result in student failures, inflated grades and teacher frustration.
Assessment allows teachers to take the concepts and skills of the standard and create Proficiency(ies) per Standard (PpS).
What will be accepted as evidence of mastery?
Do not assume that this is intuitive or obvious. When colleagues assume this is intuitive they are often grading student work subjectively and very differently. As a result, grades and data become meaningless. In addition, if evidence of mastery is not explicitly stated students will lose focus and motivation.
If students do not understand what they are expected to know, understand and be able to do they begin to feel confused and frustrated with the entire learning experience. Also, we must differentiate between formative and summative assessment practices. Formative assessment gives students time to practice and receive precise feedback on their learning relating to the standard and student formative work also provides teachers with essential information on student progress to inform their instruction.
When teachers seek, or at least are open to, feedback from students as to what students know, what they understand, where they make errors, when they have misconceptions, when they are not engaged – then teaching and learning can become synchronized and powerful. Feedback to teachers helps make learning visible, John Hattie (2009).
For more information on the power of formative assessment you must see Formative Assessment and Standards Based Grading written by Robert Marzano (2009).
Summative assessment, on the other hand, is the evaluative and end result assessment that demonstrates student mastery against specific standards.
Professional Learning Teams MUST collaboratively analyze standards and agree to specific and measurable indicators of proficiency for each standard using a four point rubric. This creates clarity for teachers and students and opens the door to begin thinking about what curriculum (content) needs to be gathered for students to access this standard in an engaging way.
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