Balanced Assessment Practices
Fostering Balanced Assessment Practices at Brighton Central School District
Where is your entry point?
A growing theme in the field of assessment is the notion that assessment is a tool for advancing learning, not only a tool for measuring what students have already learned. Assessment for learning is a process whereby both students and teachers utilize assessment information to inform next learning steps and is as important to the educational process as assessment of learning. In the latter condition, assessment of learning, assessments are conducted following the prescribed learning and are used as a measure of what learning has taken place. These practices, along with how and when we communicate with and involve students, make up the field of study around balanced assessment systems.
A commitment to continuous improvement has always been the hallmark of Brighton Central School District. Research on aligning curriculum with standards and assessments shows a strong relationship to improved student achievement. A growing theme in the field of assessment is the notion that assessment is a tool for advancing learning, should involve both students and teachers and should be diverse enough so that an accurate measure of knowledge and skill acquisition can be obtained. Assessment for learning is a process whereby students and teachers utilize assessment information to inform next learning steps and is as important to the educational process as assessment of learning; the use of summative measures to describe the degree of learning which has already taken place. An analysis by the district’s Curriculum Council of current district practices benchmarked against preferred state resulted in a desire to ensure that balanced assessment practices are being implemented across the district by all staff. The following plan outlines the process for achieving this goal.
Establish a Districtwide Definition of a Balanced Assessment System
A balanced assessment system in one in which a variety of assessments are used, for a variety of purposes and communication about results facilitates student involvement and ownership of learning. There are five dimensions which comprise a balanced system. Further articulation of each follows.
1. Instruction is based on identification and articulation of clear learning targets
2. Assessments are valid, reliable, and align to identified learning targets
3. Information from assessments are utilized for multiple purposes (i.e. timing)
4. Multiple communication systems are utilized
5. Students are involved in assessment practices
Provide HIgh Quality Professional Development
Brighton staff are routinely provided with opportunities to participate in professional development work and collegial conversations to develop a common understanding and vocabulary around the field of balanced assessment. During this work, teachers perform needs analyses based upon their increased understanding of the five dimensions and reflection of current practices. Goals are developed by individuals, departments, and/or various curricular teams which address those identified needs.
Support the Creation of High Quality Assessments
Each year the district supports teachers in their efforts to create high quality assessments that are aligned to the goals of the district. These sessions are typically held in the summer and allow teams of teachers to come together to write assessments that are based on prioritized curriculum and units of study which incorporate both tradtional and performance based assessments. The district uses eDoctrina, a curriculum and assessment management tool, to facilitate the work.
Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., Chappuis, S. (2008). Classroom assessment for student learning. Educational Testing Service.