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The Confusion Surrounding “Formative Assessment”

“Formative assessment” has been recognized as a valuable tool for student learning, and thus the term has become quite a buzzword lately. As educators began to renew emphasis on the use of formative assessments, publishers seized the opportunity to enhance their products, and did so with pre-packaged “formative assessments,” or assessment-item banks to accompany textbook purchases. Before we determine the appropriateness of these packaged formative assessment products, we first need …Read More

Creating Rubrics

Creating a rubric can initially be a time consuming process, but educators will benefit when they have an efficient and well-defined tool for assessment.  Creating a rubric follows three basic steps.  First, brainstorm a list of qualities associated with the outcome.  Next, the brainstormed list is condensed into the essential qualities necessary for student success.  The list is then converted into statements that describe the performance at various levels.  Usually …Read More

A Checklist for Implementing Common Assessments

The E-Hint, Checklist for Principals, was to facilitate the implementation of new curriculum.  This E-Hint deals with the needs associated with the creation and implementation of common assessments for that new curriculum. The specific tasks are associated with various groups of the district’s professional staff and so are listed here accordingly.  All of the tasks must be completed for a smooth implementation of this important step. The Subject Area Committee …Read More

Motivating Students for High-Stakes Testing

The bottom line is that we want our students to perform well on our state tests each year.  This isn’t only to enable our school and district to meet any mandated scores.  It’s because we want our students to do well!  And like many of you, we believe that the best motivation for students to do well is for them to know their material.  (Why not perform well if I …Read More

Teaching to the Test

One of the most passionate arguments among professional educators centers on the concept of “teaching to the test.” The whole concept of teaching to the test seems to have gotten the reputation as being cheating somehow. In our work with districts to align their curriculum, instruction, and assessment, we hear often that “It sounds like we are teaching to the test.” The obvious question is, “To what else would you …Read More


The word “align” is used so much in education these days that it is in danger of being used incorrectly. Strictly speaking, means to arrange or position in a straight line. So, when we speak of aligning curriculum to the standards or aligning curriculum with assessments, what does each of those mean? Let’s look at them one at a time. At Curriculum Leadership Institute (CLI), aligning curriculum to standards doesn’t mean …Read More

Aligning Assessments for More Than One Purpose

With the need to demonstrate accountability to multiple agencies, today’s classroom teachers must use assessment time efficiently. Teachers implementing a new local curriculum are often frustrated trying to use assessments already in place as well as create additional assessments for the new curriculum. Since neither the school day nor the school calendar has been extended, the time spent on assessments in such a situation has been disproportionately increased. Perhaps the …Read More