In Chapter 1 of “Driven by Data,” the authors discuss the essential building blocks of effective assessments. They include:
- Assessments must be the starting point
- Assessments must be transparent
- Assessments must be common
- Assessments must be interim
Without the above items as a strong foundation, effective assessments will be difficult to achieve.
To begin, assessments must be written before the start of a lesson or unit. This way, teachers can plan lessons that address standards that will be assessed. If teachers are aware of the skills that will be assessed, they observe how students interact with the material and adjust the lessons as needed for students to learn the skill. Next, assessments must be transparent. Students must have clear expectations of what they will need to know to be successful in the classroom. This practice of disseminating expectations can include learning targets and I Can statements. Communication with families about students’ learning processes and the curriculum sets a plan in motion to help students take ownership of their learning and know what is expected of them in regard to assessments. Students must know the purpose and the why they learn a skill. Another piece to effective assessments includes ones that are common. These should be the same across classrooms and even different schools within a district. Common levels of mastery will be similar across classrooms, and data-driven meetings will be meaningful and productive if teachers break down skills on common assessments to assist students where areas may be weak at the moment. Lastly, assessments must be interim, meaning they should be given to students quarterly or every six to eight weeks. If teachers go all year without assessing students, they will not be aware of targets or skills students have not mastered. Interim assessments provide teachers a snapshot of where students currently are, and make a plan for where they need to be by the end of the year to meet standards.
During my first year in the district, I participated in a Drive By Data study group. The information was helpful and I have recalled resources to use for this CNYLDP course, but I still feel my program is not driven by data.
As an elementary library team, we have worked hard to pull essential standards from the Information Fluency Continuum. We have to go through 7 grade levels, and have not completed this process yet. It feels until we have the essential standards for each grade level, that we cannot create common assessments or have data-driven meetings. We have not had the opportunity to have full-day collaborations or meetings like grade-level teams or special-education teams. With all of us in different schools, it is difficult to meet. To combat these obstacles, however, we have tried to have monthly virtual PLC meetings and connect though Google Suite to pull curriculum ideas and standards. We are on the start of this journey and will complete it in the end, but the road getting there has been arduous. I remind myself that every little bit counts and we will have a full curriculum, essential standards and common assessments eventually.