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Chapter 2

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2

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

S

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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Chapter 3

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3

Formative Assessment in Action

Assessment functions formatively to the extent that evidence about student achievement is elicited, interpreted, and used by teachers, learners, or their peers to make decisions about the next steps in instruction that are likely to be better, or better founded, than the decisions they would have made in absence of that evidence.

—Dylan Wiliam

A

ssessment in the service of learning continues to be an area of emphasis for teachers striving to optimize student achievement. Classroom assessment is nuanced and contextually sensitive, which makes it a continual part of a teacher’s professional journey, and while reaching a level of expertise is certainly possible for all educators, the journey with classroom assessment practices is never complete.

At its best, teachers use formative assessment to make instructional decisions rather than evaluative ones. The balance between the formative and summative purposes of assessment is akin to the relationship between practice and games, and while doing formative assessment is an essential first step, teachers in a standards-based learning classroom emphasize using assessment results to advance a positive learning trajectory for all students.

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Chapter 5

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5

Meaningful

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

F

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 4

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4

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

U

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 8

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8

Redos, Retakes, and

Reassessment in Action

If we really want students to reflect on their mistakes and revise their thinking and/or performances, they have to know their efforts will count. If we want them to heed our feedback on their work, they have to know that it can be used to improve their status.

—Rick Wormeli

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ome students take longer to learn. Do grading practices honor or contradict that truth? Redos, retakes, and reassessment are arguably the most critical and most controversial aspects of standards-based learning in action, which is why every teacher should vet the ideas within this chapter through the nuances of his or her own classroom. Even teachers who resoundingly support the notion can feel overwhelmed by the process both in theory and execution. That is why this chapter—and even this first section—focuses heavily on the implementation side of redos, retakes, and reassessment.

We submit that success and failure with redos, retakes, and reassessment are a matter of strong or weak execution, even though this is difficult to admit. This is not to suggest that students have no role in the success of a redo, retake, or reassessment process—they do—but teachers are wise to look first at how they set up and implemented the process before turning to the students. That said, this chapter is not about wagging fingers and blaming teachers; all three of us have experienced resounding success and absolute failure with reassessment.

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