Step 9. Evaluate Progress and Communicate Next Steps
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: Evaluate progress and communicate next steps
Details for Meeting(s): Meet at [Location] on [Date] from [Start Time] to [End Time] on [Date(s)]
- Determine what still needs to be done
- Determine assessment calendars for the coming school year
- Determine how assessment calendar will be communicated
- Plan for related professional development, articulation, and collaboration (e.g., surrounding analysis of results)
- Plan for post-administration evaluation of assessments
Determine What Still Needs to Be Done
Guide everyone in accessing (e.g., electronically) all completed assessment components, such as all assessments intended for future use (whether they were purchased, previously in use, or newly revised or created), all pacing guides, and any testing calendars already developed.
Discuss your process and determine any remaining items on your action plan that still need to be completed (if possible, determine how they will be completed;otherwise, return to this topic later).
Communicate with Staff
Make a plan for communicating with all staff impacted by the assessment (school- or site-wide), and follow it. Remember that a new assessment system constitutes a big change for teachers, and the way you handle its roll-out is crucial. There are free ways to survey entire grade levels or subject areas (e.g., Survey Monkey, Google Forms, etc.) to obtain feedback on your pacing guide draft(s). Note that free, electronic surveying options will require minimal time compared to hard-copy or email approaches.
You should acquire feedback from teachers before your assessment components are put into use. While feedback is definitely welcome afterward and revisions are possible, teachers will be reorganizing their school year (lessons, photocopies, computer files, etc.) according to the plan you put into place, and you don't want to keep throwing changes at them. You should therefore try to catch any necessary changes before the school year begins, and afterward you should not make changes lightly. Remember to include other stakeholders (e.g., administrators, curriculum heads, instructional coaches, etc.), as well.
When materials are finalized, be sure everyone who needs access to them has the ability (and the knowledge on how) to access them.
Plan for Related Professional Development, Articulation, and Collaboration
Plan for related professional development, articulation, and collaboration (e.g., surrounding analysis of results). For example, after a common assessment is given you will want to provide teachers with time to analyze and discuss results, and to share resources that worked best. These endeavors might be accompanied by professional development (e.g. Assessment Report training) and/or led by a member of the Assessment Team.
Plan accordingly. Also note it can help to have the previous lesson's resources handy during these meetings and trainings.
Plan for Post-Administration Evaluation of Assessments
Discussions might lead to conclusions concerning needed revisions in the assessment (e.g., most students missed Question 12 because the wrong term was used in the question). Thus revision meetings might need to be scheduled. When leading data analysis meetings, however, be sure attendees understand that a question many students missed is not necessarily a "bad" question. Here are some examples to share at such meetings:
These Good Questions Are Sometimes Mistaken for Bad (but They're Good!)
- A term was used that students didn't understand. The standard and/or real life requires that students understand the term, but teachers simply don't use the term in their instruction and/or the term isn't used in the text/curriculum. This question is great, as it calls attention to teachers' need to supplement the curriculum (start varying their vocabulary when they teach the concept, and supplement texts/curriclum that aren't comprehensive in their terminology).
- The question seems too hard (e.g., harder than others), but it is appropriately aligned to the standard and its rigor level, and/or it closely matches Released Test Questions. Standards vary in difficulty, so this could be a great question that points out which students are struggling with this tough concept, as well as the types of mistakes they are making (e.g., view the Response Frequency Report to see which distractors students incorrectly selected).
These Bad Questions Are Probably Bad and/or in Need of Revision
- There is a construction error, such as a mistake on the answer key (e.g., the answer should be A but the answer key says C) or in standards-alignment.
- There is a design error (e.g., no clearly correct answer, confusing wording, etc.); see the "Write/Select Quality Questions" lesson for a number of these.
It can also help to have the previous lesson's resources handy during these meetings.
By now you have traveled far on your road to common assessments. Continue to refer to lessons in this manual as needed as you further refine assessment tools available. For example, which post-lesson questions can teachers post for students to answer on the spot for quick, daily formative feedback?