Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part One


Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.

I just left a meeting where one of the frustrated participants complained that the state Kansas-Can-blue_white-gold-starassessments “exist in a box.”  She meant that the assessment isn’t really like anything else that a good teacher does in their classroom.  I think most educators would agree. It is more often true that teaching and learning stop as we prepare for the assessment and that neither teaching nor learning is affected in a positive way by the state assessment.

What if that was different? 

What if the state assessment was a part of the general instruction that each student participates in? What if the Kansas History, Government, and Social Studies (HGSS) assessment was just a part of what good teachers were doing already?

A group called the “Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation” created a great little book called “Classroom Assessment Standards for PreK-12 Teachers.”  I know that sounds a little geeky, but it has been a very enlightening read. I have decided to use the Committee’s book and standards to help cast a vision for what the state assessment could look like in 2020.

Assessments must be aligned to learning outcomes and curriculum

Standard #1
“Classroom assessment practices should have a clear purpose that supports teaching and learning.”

What if the state assessment was done in the classroom, had a clear purpose, and could be used by teachers not only to measure learning, but to inform instruction?

Standard #2
“Learning expectations should form the foundation for aligning classroom assessment practices with appropriate instruction and learning opportunities for each student.”

What if the state assessment allowed teachers to create learning expectations for the assessment and craft instruction and assessment practices for each student?

Standard #3
“The types and methods of classroom assessment used should clearly allow student to demonstrate their learning.”

What if the state assessment actually allowed teachers and students flexibility in the ways in which students demonstrate what they know and are able to do?

Standard #4
“Students should be meaningfully engaged in the assessment process and use of the assessment evidence to enhance their learning. “

What if students had significant choice and voice in the state assessment and received timely and helpful critical feedback?

Standard #5
“Adequate teacher and student preparation in terms of resources, time, and learning opportunities should be part of classroom assessment practices.”

What if the state assessment allowed students and teachers days, weeks, months, or even years to complete?

Standard #6
The purposes and uses of the classroom assessment should be communicated to students and, when appropriate, parents/guardians.”

What if the purpose of the state assessment aligned with the learning outcomes of the teacher, school, and district and was a vehicle for the future success of the student in college, career, and civic life?

Just imagine.

Social Studies state assessment Part II coming soon!

I’ll be presenting details about this topic and the assessment at the annual Kansas Social Studies Conference October 28th and 29th in Emporia. Make plans to be there!

About Kori Green

I teach 8th grade social studies at El Dorado Middle School in El Dorado, KS. I enjoy U.S. history, dabble in British history, and love incorporating technology in the classroom.

4 thoughts on “Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part One

  1. I believe this is the correct path to pursue. Revamping the test to be used to show growth like the MAPP test would also be a possibility. However, using the test to as an instructional tool to check for understanding is good idea as well. Students currently do not feel any pressure to attempt to do well on the history assessment because it is not tied to their grades. In math, it can serve as another form of data to review for course placement. However, in history, some schools do not even have AP classes so this is not useful to them. In one of my previous schools, we allowed students to “opt out” of some finals if they scored proficient or exceeds standards on the state assessment, which became their motivation to do well. This incentive vanished quickly as we realized that the students needing to take finals to prepare for college finals in the future were the ones opting out.

Leave a Reply