Last week I presented (for a second time) a webinar for Simple K12 on the topic, Performance Task Assessment is 21st century Assessment.

Those slides are embedded above, and the webinar is available here (free for members, for a fee if you’re not).

In that presentation I discuss various strategies for designing and developing your own performance tasks for assessment, and suggest that one avenue is to borrow an existing one and adapt for your purposes.     In the PBL world where I also spend a lot of time, we refer people often to PBL libraries (BIE has a list of them here), and so it is important we match them with performance task libraries.

Performance Task assessment is becoming increasingly important, as I’ve posted here several times before, because of its role in Common Core assessments, (more…)

Delighted today to have the opportunity to share these slides and thoughts with folks here at OESIS today.  I continue to think that using technologies, current and emerging, to reinvent testing and assessment is among the primary projects for 21st century K-12 learning in the current decade, and I’m going to continue to do my best to support this reinvention.

As I explained at some length in the opening of my session, and I realize I may stand a bit alone here, I still love tests– of all kinds, including the “test” that is asking students to demonstrate their learning in challenging ways– and a huge part of my personal mission is to make testing more engaging and meaningful for students: let’s improve the way we use assessment as, for, and of learning! 

Pam Moran and I shared this and facilitated this conversation today at educon: our thanks to the attendees for the rich and meaningful conversation.

Above are the slides for my presentation today to the Association of Colorado Independent Schools Heads and senior administrators, a three hour workshop.   Sadly, I (again!) made the mistake of trying to stuff in too much information, and several of our intended activities and videos had to be cut.

Below are first, some of the key links to think to which I referred, and below that, some of the videos I showed or intended to show as part of the presentation.

A very valuable reference is the excellent presentation, Measuring What We Value by Lyons and Niblock.   (Note: I borrowed/adapted a small number of these slides for integration into my presentation: My thanks to Lyons and Niblock. )

My thanks to Lee Quinby, the very fine ACIS executive director, and all those who took the time for the session this morning.

Links:

[slides shared with permission of the authors]

The presentation above, by Doug Lyons and Andrew Niblock, is from a session which was a highlight of last spring’s NAIS Annual Conference, a session which sadly I was unable to attend, but about which I heard great things– and the slides carry much of that value.

This presentation covers terrain that I too spend a lot of time examining.  (for comparison, see my presentation to the Canadian Heads at their annual meeting last year.)

I am very well aware that there are many fine minds and outstanding educators who are arguing against measurement in education– or for dramatically reducing the measurement we do of learning– or that much of what we most value is hard or effectively impossible to measure.

And certainly, there is a somewhat appalling misuse and abuse of student learning measurement data in the US today– of course there is.

But, my ongoing approach, aligned exactly with this high quality presentation, is that we seek diligently to improve and correct the way we use learning measurement, but not abandon or reject evaluating and measuring learning.   Indeed, to best change education from its current course and to bring it to a far more student centered, 21st century oriented, technology accelerated, and innovative place, we have to have data to support our campaign and change current policies.

Among the things I appreciate about this presentation is its breadth, looking at both internal and qualitative ways we assess learning AND external/quantifiable ways.   We have to look at this topic broadly– what gets measured gets done, what gets measured gets valued, we can’t manage what we can’t measure: these mantras are compelling and significant, and if we want to transform learning we have to transform what we assess and measure.

It is good too that it is built in part upon Criterion 13 of the Commission on Accreditation standards, which is essential to framing the issue of assessment in independent schools:

The Standards require the school to provide evidence of a thoughtful process, respectful of its mission, for the collection and use in school decision-making of data, both external and internal, about student learning.

This evidence is required for the accreditation of all independent schools in coming years, , as, I believe, it should be.

Some thoughts, comments, and observations on this presentation.

1.  I love the citation from Ted McCain’s Teaching for Tomorrow–a highly valuable, but, I fear, highly under-valued, book on the topic.  As they quote McCain:

“we need to invert the conventional classroom dynamic: instead of teaching information and content first, and then asking students to answer questions about it second, we should put the question/problem first, and then facilitate students with information and guidance as they seek the answer and hold them accountable for the excellence of their solutions and of their presentation of their results”.

In my own 2008 research visiting 21 schools and shadowing students at each, I found McCain proven right– that putting problems first made a huge difference. (more…)

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  • Far more detailed institutional reports–
  • student level scoring validity
  • possibility of improved student test-taking motivation
  • available for 8th graders now
  • flexible scheduling
  • Lower price– $38
  • Special trial price this spring only $22

Regular readers here know of my interest in, and on balance enthusiasm for, the CWRA– the College Work Readiness Assessment, which I have administered as a school head over the course of three years, presented on about half a dozen times and written about about here a dozen times.

Run, don’t walk, to register for the 30 minute free webinar CAE, CWRA’s parent, is offering this week and next about the forthcoming changes in the CWRA.   If you can’t attend one of these sessions, you’ll do pretty well as an alternate reviewing the five page overview of CWRA changes I’ve embedded at the bottom of this post.  (Be sure to click “more” to see it if you are interested).

As enthusiastic as I’ve been, I’ve also been a gentle critic on the following fronts.

  • The institutional reporting lacks detail and specificity for use in identifying program gaps and targeting institutional improvement.
  • It is too expensive.
  • Students lack motivation to perform because they have no stake in the game– there is no student-level report.
  • There are enough or pertinent norm groups for comparison– particularly in the lack of independent school comps.
  • It doesn’t have enough possible purposes beyond an institutional check on student learning.
  • It isn’t available for middle school students.
  • Is automated scoring of essays proven and reliable enough?

And now, here it is: the new CWRA plus addresses nearly all of these issues.  I feel almost as if they were listening to me.  (Smile) (more…)

Performance Task Assessment, sometimes referred to simply as Performance Assessment, is coming soon in a substantial and significant way to K-12 schooling;  21st century principals and other educational leaders would do well to familiarize themselves with this method and began to make plans for successful integration of this new, alternative format of assessments.

[the following 10 or so paragraphs lay out some background for my “10 Things;” scroll down to the section heading if you want to skip over the background discussion]

President Obama and Secretary Duncan have been assuring us for several years that they will take standardized testing “beyond the bubble,” and both PARCC and Smarter Balanced are working hard at developing new common core assessment using the format of perfomance task assessment.

As PARCC explains,

PARCC is… contracting with [other organizations] to develop models of innovative, online-delivered items and rich performance tasks proposed for use in the PARCC assessments. These prototypes will include both assessment and classroom-based tasks.

Smarter Balanced, meanwhile, states that by 2014-15,

Smarter Balanced assessments will go beyond multiple-choice questions to include performance tasks that allow students to demonstrate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Performance tasks challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to respond to complex real-world problems. They can best be described as collections of questions and activities that are coherently connected to a single theme or scenario.

These activities are meant to measure capacities such as depth of understanding, writing and research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with traditional assessment questions.

Samples of the performance tasks being developed for grades K-8 are available here.   (more…)