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Assessment Inquiry

Project: Connecting
Assessment and
Instruction
Sheena Strada
EDU 741

Theoretical Basis

The rationales that educators employ when designing assessments are


perhaps some of the most important determinations that go into curriculum
design.
Educators can have multiple goals for assessments, but Johnston and
Costello (2005) argue that chief among them should be a strong correlation
between the assessment and the instruction to which it is tied.
This relationship is a fascinating one; educators must determine which
skills or content to teach, which to assess, and then choose or design
appropriate assessments that will collect useful data on student learning
outcomes.
Or, as Johnston and Costello (2005) assert, It is not just what gets
assessed, but how it is assessed that has implications for what is learned
(p. 256).
Given how important this task is, and the varying levels of instruction and
experience educators have in the design and use of assessments, I
wanted to learn more about how educators view the relationship between
instruction and assessment.

Controlling Question
In order to gather data that would help
illuminate instructors views of the
relationship mentioned above, I wrote two
controlling questions:
How do teachers structure assessment
to reflect what was taught?
How do teachers ensure they are
assessing what they taught?

The Survey
The survey, which was created using Google
Forms, consisted of seven questions, four of which
were open response and three multiple-choice.
Questions were crafted to elicit responses that were
honest and brief. Attempts were made to avoid
questions which might imply judgement of an educator
s process, as were questions that would be difficult for
a busy educator to answer within a brief time period.

Survey Respondents
The survey was sent to the entire career center faculty,
which consists of 13 classroom teachers of grades 912 and one special educator. A deadline was provided;
by that day only four teachers had completed the
survey. A request was put out to the members of my
EDU 741 grade level group for additional responses,
and a fifth response was submitted. After this point, a
final member of the career center faculty completed
the survey, bringing the total number of responses to
six.

Responses - Question 1
Which do you plan first, the assessment or the instruction?

Responses - Question 2
What considerations go into your assessment planning to ensure what
you are assessing is what you taught?
Review of handouts and reading assignments and activities completed
How will I know that the student will be able to perform or execute what is being instructed and
to what level.
competencies, core standards, lesson key concepts, the student's work process as well as the
student's final product/outcome
textbook material questions provided plus material based on class presentations and an
expectation that assigned reading has been completed.
I plan what is important to teach first, plan my lesson, then create an assessment based on
what I will teach.
I match my assessment to reflect the high leverage objectives that are being taught.

Responses - Question 3
How do you decide on assessment structure/design?
Based on student learning styles and needs based on their plans
They have been developed over time and assess the necessary elements of each lesson
plan.
I have two main rubrics: one is product driven, one is process-driven
Oral assessments are common in our classroom: peer, one-on-one review for in-progress
assessment, group review for both in-progress and final critique.
Decisions around assessment are based upon whether a student needs to be evaluated for
their work habits (process, 'soft' skills) or on final product (core curricular fundamentals)
Variable -- regular quizzes, written article reviews with citations, journal entries, and an
opportunity to negotiate for a presentation format if sufficiently robust.
If what I am teaching is hands on, the assessment is hands on. If what I am teaching is more
thought or knowledge based it is usually written. Most assessments are a combination of the
two.
I do a lot of PBL, so my assessment reflects the design of the PBL. I vary my structure...but I
try to stay away from multiple choice tests...

Responses - Question 4
How does assessment change or influence your instruction?
I use entrance tickets to see if they got the previous days lesson
I use a series of smaller quizzes and less big tests
I try to use a mix of higher and lower level questions
As we move into proficiency based instruction and cross walking common core I will need to
revamp rubrics and assessment
I stress to students that it is not just the final concepts / fundamentals that must be
understood, but also an understanding of how they work/learn as individuals.
If a majority of students miss a question, we review as a group and I may reassess scoring
I would say it is the opposite.
Once assessment is complete, I see where the needs are and I structure my lessons based on
that data.

Responses - Question 5
How often do you use the results of formative
assessments to guide instruction?

Responses - Question 6
How important to you is it that summative
assessments connect to standards?

Responses - Question 7
When you collect or receive assessment data,
how comfortable are you interpreting the
results?

Findings
The data from this survey indicates that although
teachers may begin the planning process from different
starting points, the teachers surveyed are working to
connect assessment to instruction through a focus on
instructional materials and activities or, with the end in
mind, assessment design. Formative assessment is
routinely used to inform instruction, and the individuals
surveyed are comfortable understanding and making
use of assessment results.

Findings (Continued)
In short, the answer to the initial question appears
to be yes, teachers do create assessments and
instructional activities in sync, even though the
individual processes may differ.
What would round out these findings is additional
information on the connections between standards and
assessment. That was the area in which the surveyed
instructors reported the greatest differences of opinion,
and an area that many would argue is vital to providing
students with a strong, focused education.

Local Literacy Assessment


The results of this survey indicate that teachers
on our faculty:
regularly utilize formative assessments when
planning instruction
design assessments that reflect instructional
materials and activities
consider learning outcomes, technical
competencies, and core standards when
designing assessments

Larger Implications
This data represents a microcosm of educators
and illustrates that:
Teachers want to provide their students with
enriched and authentic learning
opportunities.
Teachers need training in assessment
design.
Teachers benefit from training on standards
application - what the standards
are/say/mean.

Reference
Johnston, P. and Costello, P. (2005). Theory
and research into practice: Principles for
literacy assessment. Reading Research
Quarterly, 40(2), pp. 256-267. Retrieved
from
www.jstor.org/stable/4151682.