Quality Performance Assessments Are Trending at Sanborn and in NH
In a meeting at a highly-effective school near you, a group of math teachers are working as a Professional Learning Community (PLC) to analyze their students’ work on a recent performance assessment in their Algebra 1 classes. Through their conversations and dialog, they are attempting to use a commonly developed rubric to score the student work. By regularly collaborating in this way each week they are aligning, designing, and analyzing these performance assessments in an effort to increase student achievement and equity of outcomes.
As school districts and states around our nation reflect on ways to strengthen their Common Core implementation, performance assessments are becoming a necessary component of classroom experiences. According to the Center for Collaborative Education, in their publication Quality Performance Assessment: A Guide for Schools and Districts, performance assessments are “multistep assignments with clear criteria, expectations, and processes that measure how well a student transfers knowledge and applies complex skills to create or refine an original product.” If schools are truly committed to building higher-order skills and improving classroom instruction and student outcomes, then they must make use of performance assessments on a regular basis. These assessments help students to apply their knowledge in the context of new settings or problems and provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate transfer in an authentic task.
Let’s return for the moment to that group of math teachers. Here is the problem they were reviewing in their last PLC meeting:
You are a member of the 9th and 10th grade Student Activities Committee. Your present job is to plan the 9th and 10th grade dinner-dance at the end of the year. You must hire a band, a caterer, and you must purchase decorations. To encourage student attendance at the event, you must minimize your expenses. Your goal is for 300 students to attend the event, but you also need to prepare for the case if only 200 students attend the event. A written report, including all mathematical calculations and reasoning, is expected to the principal for approval.
The problem went on to provide pricing structures for the choices of bands, caterers, and decorations and also outlined specific information that was to be included in the written report to the Principal. A rubric was also included.
The math teachers followed a simple five step process to design their performance assessment. First, they designed a common task (the dance problem). Then, they crafted clear assessment criteria (the rubric). Next, they field-tested their task and scored the student work. Then, they agreed upon samples of student work that would act as anchors for each level of their rubric. Finally, they reflected on the process in an effort to refine their performance assessment and their rubric for future use.
The New Hampshire Department of Education has taken a bold step forward with their state policy regarding the use of performance assessments. The state is working with the Center for Collaborative Education to establish a student performance assessment system. It will include a set of common performance assessments that have high technical quality, locally designed assessments with guidelines for ensuring high technical quality, regional scoring sessions and local district peer review audits to ensure sound accountability systems and high inter-rater reliability, and a web-based bank of local and common performance. It is expected that the new system will one day play a role in determining whether or not students and schools are making growth.
It is anticipated that other states will follow New Hampshire’s lead with performance assessments in the near future.
This article was written for MultiBriefs by Brian Stack. You can view the original article here.