Our readings for module 2 delved into the importance of having a clear purpose and clear learning targets when planning for assessment. Educators must consider who is going to use the information, how they will use it and what information they need. Is assessment data going to provide information to the students and teacher in order to determine their proximity to a goal? Or is it going to provide information to a district or state to determine Annual Yearly Progress? The answers to questions such as these directly influence whether the assessment should be formative or summative. (Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, and Arter ,2012)
Clear learning targets are crucial to quality assessments in that they help determine the appropriate assessment method. Chappuis et al. (2012, pp. 44-58) offer a system of categorizing learning targets into five different kinds: knowledge targets, reasoning targets, skill targets, product targets and disposition targets. I was particularly interested in using these categories to better understand our district learning targets and subsequently plan more appropriate assessments for them. I tried my hand at deconstructing one of our district math standards and aligning these smaller parts with our adopted math curriculum – Envision Math (Charles, et al., 2009). Using the Template for Deconstructing a Content Standard, I broke down our Lake Washington School District Math Power Standard number 6 “Describes the location of objects in space relative to other objects.” I was surprised at how much deeper I had to look at the standard in order to ensure that the Envision lesson targets were aligned with it. I was confident that the six targets I reviewed from Envision adequately addressed the target. I was dismayed, however, that all of the targets seemed to be in the knowledge category. I wondered if perhaps there should be targets from the reasoning category as well in order to provide deeper learning. After reading about the knowledge category in the text (Chappuis et al. 2012, pp. 44-47) I now understand that “in order to explain a concept clearly you have to know it well”. I was reassured that a knowledge target is still a worthwhile target.
I also was concerned with the Envision Formative Assessment that was provided for assessing learning target number six as listed on the Template for Deconstructing a Content Standard. It seemed to me that the target “Children will use positional words to act out a problem” would require students to actually use positional words to direct a person or object. For the assessment of this target I believe that having students use positional words to guide a partner in a scavenger hunt would be much more effective and fun!
Going through the process of categorizing a standard and deconstructing it was extremely helpful in that it showed me how to critically evaluate assessments that are offered in adopted curriculums. Asking myself the question “What does a student need to know and understand to attain mastery of this standard?” (Chapppuis et al. 2012, p. 61) enabled me to determine that the assessment in the curriculum that I was using would not provide enough information to me to determine whether or not students had mastered the target.
Chappuis, J., Stiggins, R., Chappuis, S. & Arter, J. (2012) Classroom assessment: Every student a learner. Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right-Using it well (pp. 1-18). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Charles, R.I. , et al. (2009). Envision math. Glenview, Illinois: Pearson Education, Inc.