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Medium 9781942496571

9 Assessment to Inform and Improve Professional Practice

Richard DuFour Solution Tree Press ePub


Assessment to Inform and Improve Professional Practice

A genuine commitment to helping all students learn at high levels requires a systematic process to monitor each student’s learning on an ongoing basis and then use evidence of student learning to:

•  Provide students with relevant, actionable information about the progression of their learning towards clearly defined standards and targets

•  Respond to the individual needs of students in a coordinated way

•  Inform and improve the individual and collective practices of professionals within the school

This assessment process is formative, which the OECD defines as “frequent, interactive assessments of students’ progress and understanding to identify learning needs and adjust teaching appropriately” (Looney, 2005, p. 21). Some authors refer to formative assessment as assessment for learning (Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall, & Wiliam, 2004; Fullan, 2005; Stiggins, 2007). John Hattie (2012) prefers to use the term assessment as learning. Regardless of the nomenclature, the big idea behind formative assessment is that evidence of student learning is used “to adjust instruction to better meet student needs” (Wiliam, 2011, p. 43). Formative assessment is not a specific test; it is a process that uses multiple indicators of student learning. It is not something to be purchased; it is a skill that educators must master. It is not something that occurs at the end of instruction; it is an integral part of good instruction. It is not designed to result in a final score or grade; it is a process to inform students, better meet their needs, and improve professional practice (Orland & Anderson, 2013).

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Medium 9781943874941

3 Consolidating Learning by Choosing Significant Tasks

Laurie Robinson Sammons Solution Tree Press ePub



It happens in classrooms regularly. Readers may recognize this situation. The teacher thinks things have gone well and sends his or her students off with a little homework to make sense of and practice the day’s learning. The next day, students come back and say, “I understood it in class, but when I got home I couldn’t do the homework.” The teacher sees the problem is that, as someone who can explain things well, he or she has made the learning seem very logical and easy. We teachers understand, but the students haven’t done the work to make sense of the learning for themselves until they attempt the homework—and then find out they truly do not understand after all. Until students do the work of making connections and deepening understanding, they do not own the learning.

There is a difference between renting and owning. Often people drive rental cars harder or faster than their own cars. If someone rents a house and something breaks, that person is usually not responsible for fixing it; the landlord is. Sometimes students treat learning as a rental, not fully investing their time and efforts in class. Sometimes teachers do not offer opportunities for student ownership in class. The strategies we choose and activities we design for class largely determine whether our students will be renters of information who largely forget what they learned following the assessment, or owners of learning that they store in their long-term memory who are able to transfer their understanding and skills in the future. We call this consolidating learning. Students consolidate learning when they make sense for themselves of how new learning connects with previous learning to make a coherent whole (Fisher & Frey, 2015). In this chapter, we will examine how complexity, rigor, and balance are necessary to empower and motivate students to invest in and consolidate their learning. We also offer suggestions for several engaging and rigorous activities and strategies teachers can use in their classrooms.

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Medium 9781934009253

Chapter 1: The First “R”

Richard Curwin Solution Tree Press ePub

Discipline is less about punishing and more about teaching responsibility.

The purpose of school has been defined in many ways. School prepares students for college, jobs, and citizenship. School keeps students off the streets until they grow up. School teaches students how to think and socializes them. School teaches the three R’s: reading, writing, and arithmetic. But difficult students cannot learn the three R’s until they learn the most important R first: responsibility.

Perhaps the most fundamental and important goal of schooling is teaching the tools of responsible behavior. Virtually every school mission statement includes this concept. Unfortunately, the day-today process of discipline in most schools focuses far more on creating obedience. Although obedience is necessary for children to learn, it is in many ways the opposite of responsibility. Obedience requires students to do what they are told. Responsibility requires students to make the best decisions they can with their ability and understanding of the consequences.

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Medium 9781475811964

Degrees of School Democracy: A Holistic Framework




ABSTRACT: This article outlines an analytical framework that enables analysis of degrees of democracy in a school or other organizational setting. It is founded in a holistic conception of democracy, which is a model of working together that aspires to truth, goodness, and meaning and the participation of all. We suggest that the analytical framework can be used not only for research purposes but also to help enhance democratic professional participation. It is a resource for collaborative professional development by practitioners, offering a vehicle for school communities to reflect together on where they are as a school and where they would like to be.

The purpose of this article is to explore the idea of degrees of internal school democracy through an analytical framework. The framework was developed on the basis of prior theoretical work (in particular, the concept of holistic democracy) and analysis of data in three schools (as detailed in the Method section). The value of focusing on how degrees of democracy could be explored emerged for us from a study of the efforts of one of those schools (the Academy, described later) to distribute leadership and develop emergent leaders among newly qualified teachers to increase innovation in pedagogy, enhance students’ thinking skills, and increase their attainment in tests and examinations. The question of whether this constituted an intensification of performative culture or progress in the direction of democratic professional participation led us to compare and contrast the Academy with two very different types of school to illustrate the varying degrees of democracy and to develop the framework presented in this article.

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Medium 9781475811681

Visioning Parent Engagement in Urban Schools

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub


ABSTRACT: Parent involvement has increasingly been mandated as a key component of school reform, and school–community relations courses (as well as standards for administrators) call for collaborating with diverse families and communities. Yet the role of school leaders in engaging parents is underdeveloped in the literature and in preparation programs. How do leaders envision parent engagement and construct their role in promoting it in a large urban district? What contextual factors enable and constrain leadership for parent engagement? This qualitative study of 12 urban administrators known for their commitment to parent engagement shows how their leadership style promoted a family-friendly climate but fell short of the comprehensive partnerships and shared leadership models envisioned in the literature. Implications for preparation programs are discussed.

Over the past 20 years, government initiatives, private foundations, comprehensive school reform models, and standards for educators have required schools to promote family and community involvement (Epstein & Sanders, 2006). In the 1990s, for example, Goals 2000 and Title I legislation called for home–school partnerships to increase achievement and required parent participation in Title I school governance councils, while some state departments of education created parent involvement policies and staff positions. Building on previous mandates, a little-enforced provision of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 stated that schools must devise parent involvement plans and offer a range of parent activities. With research showing an association between parent involvement and student achievement, school–family partnerships have become commonplace on the short list of recommendations for improving schools and addressing achievement gaps (Constantino, 2003).

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