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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 10

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10

Standards-Based

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

T

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 7

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7

Summative

Assessment in Action

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

—Connie M. Moss

A

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 1

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1

Standards-Based

Learning in Action

The past 20 years have seen an accelerating growth in studies of formative assessment. However, this has not been matched by a corresponding development in summative assessment.

The net effect has been that the changes have not improved the state of discord between these two functions.

—Paul Black

A

move to standards-based learning requires some fundamental and significant shifts in how teachers organize, execute, and assess their students.

After they have identified the standards, it becomes clearer to teachers what they should teach and assess—and what they should not. Most teachers would have to go out of their way to avoid covering the mandated standards by topic; however, the existence of standards doesn’t always equate to teaching to standards. Standardsbased learning is anchored on a teacher’s commitment to designing instructional experiences and assessment that make proficiency against standards (not the accumulation of points) the priority outcome.

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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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