Let’s begin with the end in mind.
By the end of each school year, our students are expected to perform at the proficient level on the state and district academic standards for each grade and subject. With the standards mastery as the goal for our students; it follows that the goal for educators is to provide guidance and support for students to be successful in achieving this standards mastery. What can teachers and students do within one academic year to ensure students’ progress toward goals? Using last year test scores as baseline, some evidence of student progress toward the learning targets must be collected and appropriate actions taken.
To this end, districts have focused more resources on implementing the formative assessment process to promote students’ ownership of their learning and to help educators determine if their teaching have impact. Formative Assessment in this context is, as defined in 2006 by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to help students improve their achievement of intended instructional outcomes (CCSSO, 2008). This process is sometimes referred to as “assessment FOR learning” whose goals are:
(a) to communicate the learning targets or standards that students are expected to master,
(b) to monitor student performance on each learning standard based on multiple evidences, and
(c) to gauge the impact of teacher’s lessons and adjust based on student outcomes.
A critical and ongoing activity in the formative assessment process is to monitor student progress. What progress monitoring means to you will depend on the role you take on in this process.
As a district administrator, you probably have a general idea of the academic standards that the students are expected to master since these expectations are specifically written into state laws. Having the ability to monitor student performance across campuses allows you to identify the areas to proritize the professional development and other supporting resources. In an example below, one standard seems to be more difficult to master by students across many schools. A Curriculum Specialist might review the test items and/or recommend additional lesson or resources on this standard.
As a teacher, you already have a clear idea of what students are expected to know and be able to do since your district curriculum specifies the scope of what you teach and the sequence with which you teach. With the Standards Progression report, you will be able to monitor student performance within your class and differentiate instructions for individual or small groups based on non-mastery standards. The example below clearly shows one standard should be retaught in a whole group session since most of the students did not perform well. On the other hand, for the one standard where a handful of students are having difficulty, the teacher can assign small-group or individual tutoring.
A group of teachers once described an ideal scenario where there is a virtual data wall that is updated each time there is a new evidence of student learning. A rough sketch is shown here. Teachers and campus leaders can see how the students are doing on each of the learning standards across all subjects. Multiple sources of data on the same construct would be reconciled here to provide a clearer picture of what the student can do. The data are not limited to test scores but also classwork, homework, end-of-unit quiz, or any student work products that can be used as evidence for student’s mastery of standards.
An early attempt is shown in the following report where results from a universal screener and other reading-related assessments are displayed alongside each other for a holistic view of student performance. How the composite level of performance is determined will be based largely on local context at the campus or district level.
Lastly, as a student or a parent, you may not be as informed about the learning standards or the expectations of what the student must learn each year. Having the ability to monitor progress through the Standards Progression Report will provide you with the list of learning standards as well as the latest progress toward mastery of those standards. Furthermore, students can access the source items to review their answers and teacher’s feedback. Progress monitoring provides students and parents with the information that can help the students learn more effectively and support meaningful parent-teacher conversation.
The goal for monitoring student progress is to ensure that all students achieve mastery of state academic standards. With the Standards Progression Reports, our students, parents, teachers, and administrators can do their part in advancing this cause. SchoolCity will continue to develop innovative tools to support our teachers and students.
Council of Chief State School Officers (2008). Attributes of Effective Formative Assessment: A work product coordinated by Sarah McManus, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for the CCSSO Formative Assessment for Students and Teachers (FAST) SCASS. Washington, D. C.: CCSSO