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Chapter 7

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Assessment in Action

The accuracy of summative judgments depends on the quality of the assessments and the competence of the assessors.

—Connie M. Moss


n essential part of a balanced approach to classroom assessment is the verification that learning has occurred. The summative purpose of assessment is to make an overall judgment of achievement in a specific area of learning at a specific moment in time. The ways in which teachers report achievement and other important aspects can vary and evolve (such as moving away from traditional letter grades), but educators will certainly always need to verify, synthesize, and report student achievement. Standards-based learning environments have teachers refocus grades to be only about achievement, deferring all other aspects—attitude, work ethic, citizenship, responsibility, respect—to separate criteria and processes.

We can divide summative assessment into two somewhat independent processes: grading and reporting. This chapter focuses on the grading piece, which is essentially the act of making an overall determination of achievement; in this sense, grading is a verb that doesn’t necessarily result in the exclusive use of a letter or symbol to communicate achievement levels.

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Chapter 4

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Effective Feedback in Action

Feedback is what happens second, is one of the most powerful influences on learning, occurs too rarely, and needs to be more fully researched by qualitatively and quantitatively investigating how feedback works in the classroom and learning process.

—John A. C. Hattie


sing assessment data is fundamental to closing the gap between where students are and where they need to be. The unpredictability of learning makes feedback essential to effective learning and improvement (Wiliam, 2013).

Despite deep and wide research, there is no definitive answer to the question, What’s the most effective feedback strategy?

Everything about assessment is contextually sensitive and nuanced; a strategy that is effective in one class might be ineffective in another. Although it is a more favorable practice to utilize formative feedback in the absence of grades or scores, the definitiveness with which some reference the research on feedback minimizes the complexity of the feedback process. Almost everything teachers do in responding to assessment can, on some level, be classified as feedback (grades, for example); however, the real question is how effective the feedback was in producing the desired result of advancing proficiency.

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Chapter 5

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Homework in Action

The range of complaints about homework is enormous, and the complaints tend . . . toward extreme, angry, often contradictory views.

—Brian Gill and Steven Schlossman


ew aspects of schooling rival homework in terms of multiple perspectives and definitive opinions. While some lament the very idea, others believe there is a place to extend learning beyond the school day. This chapter’s purpose is not to stake out a position on one side. Rather, we present a more productive, meaningful approach to homework should teachers decide it is a necessary part of the standards-based learning experience. Students’ age and stage of development undoubtedly play an essential role in teachers’ decisions about the role of homework, which means they must contextualize the ideas we put forth in this chapter to determine the applicability for each teacher’s classroom.

Moving From Rationale to Action

Because homework practices, strategies, tasks, and responses can vary so widely, homework is essentially a neutral practice that will either contribute to or take away from students’ learning experiences based on how teachers utilize it. The latest research about homework lays the foundation so teachers can put the subsequent strategies into action to make it meaningful. Because there are many diverse

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Chapter 10

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Reporting in Action

A standards-based report card identifies the specific learning goals within the curriculum so that the appropriate rigor can be ensured. It also communicates more detailed information about student learning progress with regard to those goals to bring about higher levels of success.

—Thomas R. Guskey and Jane M. Bailey


he full transformation to standards-based learning in action culminates with reporting by standards. The move to standards-based reporting is fundamentally optional in that schools could maintain a more traditional reporting construct (such as grades A to F) while changing everything else related to determining those grades. To be clear, however, we think that the final piece in fully transforming to standards-based learning is a move to a more modern, aligned reporting system.

When educators implement standards-based reporting at the school or district level, it is important that they invest the appropriate amount of time in changing teachers’, students’, parents’, and stakeholders’ mindsets first. After establishing those mindsets, then doors to standards-based reporting at the school or district level swing wide open.

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Chapter 2

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Standards Alignment in Action

These educational objectives become the criteria by which materials are selected, content is outlined, instructional procedures are developed and tests and examinations are prepared.

—Ralph Tyler


tandards represent the outcome that educators intend for the instructional process, and they are often subject neutral in that many have latitudinal applicability across multiple subjects; this allows educators who teach different subjects to establish alignment with instructional processes. For example, formulating an argument and supporting it with relevant details in a cohesive manner is applicable in English language arts, social studies, science, mathematics, and other subjects.

The curriculum, or topic, is the means through which teachers bring standards to life within specific subject areas, while instruction is the process through which teachers fuse the curriculum and standards to create a vibrant learning experience.

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