Assessment literacy has been a topic of many conversations around our office lately - while we have written most often about formative assessment, high quality summative assessment is the other side of the coin in the practice of assessment, and a number of the districts we work with have been asking for assessment literacy trainings. Over the last 6 years, we have found a number of areas that teachers commonly struggle with. Just like in designing formative assessments, it is important to keep in mind where you are headed with students in terms of enduring understandings, essential questions and learning targets, in order to accurately assess student mastery.
Training in assessment literacy is a logical next step, for districts where the fundamentals of formative assessment are being practiced, and is woven into a number of our training options, but we did not have a specific assessment literacy curriculum. With a fantastic psychometrician, named Ian, who has worked on some widely used tools in the educational field, we put together a solid assessment literacy program, which incorporates the three phases of assessment development or auditing include: Planning, Development, and Evaluation. In this post, I will focus on the planning phase; in future posts we will discuss the other phases.
The first step in creating or auditing an assessment is planning. If we just jump into creating an assessment or even pulling from an assessment bank without carefully "blueprinting" the assessment, we risk creating an inaccurate assessment with low content validity. In simplest terms, content validity means; did I assess the right content? Creating a blueprint (like an architect, creating the drawing prior to building), helps avoid mistakes such as an overemphasis on content you taught in the last few days, while underemphasizing other content. If we are certifying mastery of learning the content, we must make sure that content is represented appropriately in the assessment.
Another important consideration when developing the blueprint include making sure the method that you select to assess that learning matches the cognitive demand or level that you intended. For example, if you are measuring the skill of driving a car, the best and most accurate measurement would be a performance assessment. We want to make sure that we are using the appropriate measuring tool.
One of the benefits we have found, when working with districts on assessment literacy and measuring student growth using quality assessments (e.g., content and construct validity, reliability, stretch), is that educators are able to self-identify ways that the assessments they use can be improved, to meet the standards of high quality assessments. Parents and student believe that the score on their summative assessment certifies their level of student mastery. As many of our participants are discovering, there are often improvements that can be made, to make the assessments more authentic.
Below is an assessment blueprint which you can use in your assessment planning. We are also happy to speak with you about our training offerings and how we can support your professional development needs.
Assessment Literacy Blueprint (PDF)