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Using Data to Improve Instruction in Five Steps or Less

Now, review the three essential pieces already mentioned above: curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Begin with the locally-written curriculum. Check the alignment of the curriculum to the state standards; particularly the standard that students performed poorly on. Ask yourself or your PLC these questions: Does the local curriculum require the same skills and knowledge as those in the state standards? Is the “essence” of the standard the same when it was …Read More

Initial CLI District Response to 6 Key Elements of the Every Student Succeeds Act

Analysis of relevant elements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) suggests topics of discussion for the CLI district’s curriculum coordinating council. Although those who prepared ESSA say the act places most responsibility for establishing provisions to ensure school accountability on states, many stipulations included at the federal level do not allow much leeway for creativity or alternative interpretations. It is therefore suggested that curriculum coordinating councils place the selected relevant topics found in the table below on discussion agendas. Read More

Curriculum is a Roadmap

“Curriculum” is discussed on a daily basis in conversations within schools among administrators, teachers, support staff, and outside stakeholders. Strangely enough, it is a term that carries fundamental misconceptions that make those conversations difficult. Unless everyone involved in the conversation has the same definition for curriculum, what is said and what is heard are often very different.Read More

Reassessment Done Right

When thinking about mastery and student learning over time, it is almost impossible not to think about reassessment.  Philosophically, if you believe in allowing students to retake assessments, you may struggle with the application of this belief in actual classrooms.  The question is not whether students shall be allowed to reassess, but instead, how to reassess effectively.  So, when a student takes an initial assessment and performs below required proficiency, …Read More

Why Every District Should Write Local Assessments

The Common Core State Standards are a set of curricular standards, as the name implies, common to all the states participating (45, plus District of Columbia and several territories) and to which all of their students will eventually be held accountable through a new set of statewide assessments.  In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education awarded 330 million dollars to two assessment consortia to create Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned …Read More

Validating Assessments

Once classroom assessments have been written, they need to be validated – that is, teachers need to administer the assessments, determine their effectiveness, and correct any problems that surface. A thorough way to do this is to conduct an item analysis. That process involves looking at every test item, recording data, and then interpreting the data. Asking the questions to create data is actually the easier part. Sample questions include: …Read More

Advanced Planning Results in Better Assessments

Educators who have participated in effective training sessions understand the foundational principles for creating quality classroom assessments:  content and verb alignment between curriculum and assessment; selection of the appropriate types of assessment; “rules” for construction of test items; and administration and scoring guidelines.  However, there are two stumbling blocks that many assessment writers seem to encounter when putting training into practice.  Number one is, knowing what to do first.  When …Read More

Are Those Final Exams Necessary?

The semester is about to end, and multitudes of high school teachers (and some middle school teachers) are preparing to administer their semester final exams. As soon as possible afterward, they will enter the grades in the grade book. Now here is the question: Is giving those exams a “best practice” decision? Keep in mind that the first question we should ask ourselves when thinking about an assessment is, “What …Read More

Formatting Considerations for Written Assessments

When teachers develop authentic assessments, the most important thing is to assure that the content they taught matches what is on the assessment. Likewise, the verbs used in the curriculum dictate what students are to do during the assessment. Teachers also pay close attention to assure the cognitive level expected of the students matches the test questions. While these areas are critical for alignment, it is also important that the …Read More