Bridging the Gap Between Standards and Assessments

On Wednesday morning, the ELA group for grades 9-12 kicked off with a focus on assessments in Module 10.1. These assessments are aligned with the Common Core, preparing students with the skills and knowledge that they will need outside of the classroom. Development of the module assessments first begins with an understanding of the learning progression — the skills and knowledge that students will acquire throughout a unit, lesson, or module. This then leads to a consideration of how the student will be asked to express that skill set and knowledge through the assessment.

In order to better understand this process, participants started by looking at the standards that are assessed throughout Module 10.1. These included:

  • Reading standards for both literature and informational texts;
  • Writing standards that focus on the writing process;
  • a Speaking and Listening Standard related to collaboration; and
  • Language standards that deal with command of conventions in writing.

In order to bridge the gap between the standards and the assessment, teachers must consider how they will know when students have learned what is necessary in order to succeed in other contexts. Teachers must keep in mind that there needs to be a logical progression of knowledge and skills that also are assessed along the way to the final assessment. Assessments should relate to each other and should be connected to the standards. The real-life skills and knowledge that the students will gain and demonstrate through the tasks should also be considered. To examine this process, participants looked at a chart of assessments embedded within the 10.1 module. They talked about how the standards are reflected in the tasks, how the assessments relate to each other and build upon knowledge and skills gained, and the frequency of the standards assessed. The final performance task is also aligned to the standards and is achievable for students. Reading and writing standards are evident in this task and it is a good example of a culmination of the learning progression through the module.

The session culminated with a deeper examination of the final performance task where participants had a clearer understanding of the content and skills students will need to acquire through the module and then demonstrate in the final assessment. This reinforces the idea that students’ learning progression should be at the forefront when developing assessments in the classroom. In addition to being aligned with the standards, tasks should build upon each other and should ask the students to demonstrate a specific set of knowledge and skills.

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