Stiggins and Chappuis discuss at length in their article – Using Student-Involved Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps (PDF) – the importance of student-involved classroom assessment. In our last blog post, we highlighted the first of four conditions that must be met to ensure the effective use of student-involved classroom assessment: assessment development must always be driven by a clearly articulated purpose. Now we’ll dive into the second condition.
Condition Two – Assessments must arise from and accurately reflect clearly specified and appropriate achievement expectations.
Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and what creates success transcends teachers, students and peers. It’s a team effort where each member of the classroom learning team understands their role, what’s expected of them, and how success is determined. As Stiggins and Chappuis state in their article:
In assessment FOR learning environments, teachers deconstruct standards into the enabling classroom targets students must master on their journey to meeting state standards. To meet any standard, students must master subject matter content, meaning to know and understand. Some standards demand that they learn to use knowledge to reason and solve problems, while others require mastery of specific performance skills, where it’s the doing that is important, or the ability to create products that satisfy certain criteria of quality. Student success hinges on the clarity of these expectations in the minds of teachers and then of their students.
Students need to know where they are headed in order to participate actively in their own learning; when they don’t know the learning destination, they are at best just along for the ride. Teacher and students cannot partner effectively without a shared vision of the enterprise. And the effectiveness of subsequent student involvement in the assessment process depends on their knowing what the achievement expectations are.
To use a football analogy… On the field, success for some might mean protecting the quarterback from being sacked, while success for others might be gaining a first down or passing for ten yards. Whatever the role a player on a football field plays, the ‘learning intention’ is the same – to pick up a first down, score a touchdown, win the game, while the ‘criteria for success’ may differ depending upon their role. Ultimately, it’s up to the coach (teacher) to set these expectations in advance so that the entire team (classroom) is operating with the same targets in mind.
In our next blog post, we’ll tackle condition three – assessment methods used must be capable of accurately reflecting the intended targets and are used as teaching tools along the way to proficiency.