Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 4 – “The Classroom Based State Assessment”


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.

(This is the final installment of a four part series. Get Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.)

Commissioner Randy Watson has approved a project to bring the History, Government, and Social Studies state assessment out of the box and to embed the state assessment into what good teachers are doing in their classrooms every day.  

This is an ambitious undertaking and a bit frightful but in the KSDE spirit of redesign and the moon shot goal of “leading the world in the success of each student,” we’re moving forward. We have already enlisted more than 30 educators to help us through this difficult work. (If you are interested in helping with this process, e-mail me.)  

We’ve been working on performance level descriptions (PLDs) which describe what a student should know and be able to do at the end of elementary, middle, and high school. We have just started to work on rigorous task rubrics for the assessment and will begin soon to write sample tasks. The goal will be to pilot the sample tasks this semester so that we will have examples, student work, and exemplars for scoring available for teachers.  

What will the assessment work? 

Schools would be required to complete four Kansas-Can-blue_white-gold-starHGSS assessment tasks at each building level.  So depending on how your district is organized, four tasks at elementary, four at middle school, and four at the high school.  

These tasks could be completed in any grade 3 through 12 or in just one grade at each level. They could be completed in any social studies classroom: history, geography, economics, or civics/government. Each task will be aligned to a HGSS benchmark each requiring a specific type of activity.  

  • The rubric for task #1 will ask students to recognize information and to evaluate it by one of the five standards.
  • The rubric for task #2 will ask students to analyze the context of a given situation and to draw conclusions.
  • The rubric for task #3 will ask students to do research or inquire on a topic and make connections from that research to the real world.
  • The rubric for task #4 will require the student to make a claim and support that claim with evidence and argument.

 It is possible for all four tasks to be completed in one large project like a History Day or Unsung Heroes project. It would also be possible to do task 1 at one grade level or in one class and task 2 in another and task 3 in yet another.

Teachers and/or students would be able to decide upon the content of the assignment or project and then the task rubric applied after the student has completed the project. Teachers would give the students the score in a column in the grade book provided for them by their student management system. Student would upload their completed product and score into their individual plan of study (IPS) which will follow them wherever they go. Schools would send student scores to KSDE through their end of year school report. Teachers should feel free to give student multiple opportunities to perform well and to some degree coach them to perform better. More details will be coming later this year as the tasks / rubrics are improved following the pilot program. 

If you have questions, please let me know. I will also be available during the Kansas Social Studies Conference during presentations on Sunday October 28th and Monday October 29th.

Find more information about the conference and registration here. I hope to see you there!

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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.

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