Making Assessment Work for Learning and Evaluation

Increase the quality of learning and evaluation with better assessment.

Assessment often falls under the hate mail category, standardized testing. And rightfully so. Here are three ways that you can improve assessment practices on your campus.

What will these ideas in this post do for you?

  • improve reliability
  • data sets that are simpler to interpret
  • data that's actionable, quickly
  • reporting that details learning, not just a grade
  • information that can lead to highly-reliable evaluations of curricular programs

Data Dashboards

A data dashboard is a simple way to combine the most important metrics in ways that improve reflective practice. The data on a dashboard need to vary from sensitive data that show weekly student growth to qualitative results from parent surveys.

A defining characteristic of effective dashboards is the combination of district/campus determined metrics and teacher-developed metrics. This increases involvement in the assessment and evaluation process by both administrators and instructional professionals.

Using Sensitive Data

I previously shared why sensitive data is necessary for your school and gave examples of sensitive data. Here are the basics that you should know here at the end of 2017.

Sensitive data...
  1. moves up and down based on student learning
  2. adjusts quickly based on instructional input
  3. is consistent - reliable
  4. uses specific metrics ("micrometrics")
  5. comes from simple-to-develop assessments
  6. focus on one thing - learning
Here is a great analogy from the previous posts:
"Sensitive data will move up and down based on specific teacher and curricular inputs. It's like the needle on a tachometer. You push the pedal, the RPMs go up. You let go of the pedal, the RPMs go down."
 Sensitive data does not tell you if the race car wins the does tell you, in real time, whether the engine is working with the driver. And that's what every school needs to make assessment work for learning and evaluation.

Unidimensional Assessment

Here's a term that's a mouthful...and you'll want to use the idea, but please do us all a favor and give it a different name!

Unidimensional assessments focus on isolated content and skills in a progressive manner. Their results provide greater reliability than standardized measurements. Their design provides more data to track growth. 

Instead of mixing only a few test items per learning standard, a unidimensional assessment focuses 10-15 test items on one dimension of learning. That's it. It's focused and gives data on that single learning standard. They're simple to create and give highly reliable data, especially when configured progressively from simple to complex.

Read more in this two-part series, Are You Testing Too Much?
...And here in Ask the Experts: The Future of Assessment.


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