Step 6. Determine Specifics
This lesson covers one of a series of steps appropriate for districts or schools wanting to establish a system of common assessments. See the "Step 1. Where to Start on Your Road to Common Assessments" lesson if you wish to start at the beginning. Otherwise, keep reading. This lesson addresses the following:
Goal: Determine specifics
Details for Meeting(s): Meet at [Location] on [Date] from [Start Time] to [End Time] on [Date(s)]
- If considering purchasing assessments, watch vendor presentations and discuss options available (if you decide to purchase pre-made assessments, remaining meetings and tasks will depend upon your vendor and whether or not you purchased all assessments to be used; the rest of this manual will assume you have assessment details to determine, so pick and choose lessons based on what remains to be done)
- Determine some specifics for [district-wide/school-wide] assessment structure (complete Assessment Recommendation Details Form)
- Determine how you will evaluate assessment components (plan to complete the Current Pacing Guide Details Form and Current Assessment Details Form)
Watch Vendor Presentations and Discuss Options Available
If considering purchasing assessments, watch presentations by vendors such as Intel-Assess, Action Learning Systems, and Curriculum Associates (as well as Key Data Systems in December of 2011), with whom Illuminate works seamlessly. These companies provide pre-made assessments of field tested questions crafted by assessment experts.
Determine Some Specifics for Assessment Structure
View the Assessment Recommendation Overview Form completed before (as well as other forms previously discussed) while discussing and making decisions concerning the following (there may be some grade/level- and subject-specific distinctions):
How will you title assessments? Aim for consistency and clarity, but also keep brevity in mind and consider how assessments will be listed when alphabetized (e.g., when viewing a district-wide list of assessments, teachers of a particular grade level or subject should see all their assessments listed together). For example:
- Grade K English Benchmark 1, Grade K English Benchmark 2, etc.
- Grade 1 English Benchmark 1, Grade 1 English Benchmark 2, etc.
Also, will the district utilize a numbering system for assessments (and, if so, what will it be)?
What will the final benchmark structure look like (e.g. 1 diagnostic test in September, a shorter exam at the end of each subsequent month, replaced by a cumulative midterm at the end of the 1st semester and a cumulative final at the end of the 2nd semester)? Keep in mind that the structure will likely differ for different grades/levels and subject areas.
Connection to Pacing Guide
How will this final benchmark structure connect to the pacing guide (e.g. which exams will feature standards taught since the last exam, which will feature all standards taught up until that point, will some exams simply contain a content cluster focus, etc.)?
How will standards addressed be selected (e.g. essential standards versus all standards, state content standards vs. or in addition to national common core standards)?
Will you stick with pre-existing performance bands (0-59, 60-69, 70-79, 80-89, 90-100) or modify them?
Length and Weight
Will there be a specific number of questions on each test, how many questions for each standard will be used, and will this vary (e.g. weighted by number of questions or value of questions)?
How will the final benchmark structure be implemented (e.g. which exams will be created in time for 2012-2013 use, which for 2013-2014 use, and when will the final benchmark structure be fully implemented)? This may be a preliminary discussion, with the timeline open to revision.
Will all teachers have access to exams before administering them (will all teachers have access to assessments all year or only immediately preceding administration, etc.)?
Record decisions regarding the above questions.
With decisions (outlined above) in mind, discuss the Assessment Recommendation Overview Form completed before and make changes as necessary.
Arrange to complete the Assessment Recommendation Details Form available at https://www.illuminateed.com/AssessmentDesign-RecommendationDetailsForm.pdf. Note it is best if small groups (e.g., 2-4 teachers) complete the forms based on their area(s) of expertise.
Once these forms are completed for each grade+subject or course (e.g., 5th Grade Science) requiring assessments, compile them and review them in larger groups to check for consistency and adherence to previously made decisions. Revise forms as necessary until they fit the structure you agreed upon and flow nicely from subject to subject and from grade/level to grade/level.
Determine How You Will Evaluate Assessment Components
Although you now have a sense of what is out there and have discussed some options, you'll need to evaluate possible assessment components more closely. Determine who will complete the following forms prior to the next meeting(s):
The forms do not necessarily have to be completed by Assessment Team members. Note it is best if small groups (e.g., 2-4 teachers) complete the forms based on their area(s) of expertise. Anyone completing a form should also enlist feedback from teachers and administrators, which should be appropriately reflected on the form. Note that any step in this manual (such as this one) may be accompanied by professional development (e.g., what constitutes a quality assessment?). Consider online survey options (discussed earlier) to allow all staff administering current assessments to provide feedback.
Before Your Next Meeting(s)
1. The next set of goals will involve looking at many forms already completed. You should provide all team members with copies of the complete set that will impact the grade(s)/level(s) and subject(s) they are working on. Providing electronic copies to everyone, as well as 1 printed set per smaller group, is a great way to save paper while still meeting everyone's needs.
2. Plan to provide copies of the Action Plan Form available at https://www.illuminateed.com/AssessmentDesign-ActionPlanForm.pdf for everyone.
3. Plan to have a copy of the recorded answers from the "Determine Some Specifics for Assessment Structure" step of the "Step 6. Determine Specifics" lesson available.
4. Review the next lesson to see if there's anything else you'll want to prepare ahead of time.
Next you are ready to create an action plan. Refer to the next document/lesson in this manual for support.