Assessment: Describing Success

“Students can assess themselves only when they have a sufficiently clear picture of the targets their learning is meant to attain.” — Black and Wiliam

Chapter four of Making Classroom Assessment Work, Davies describes how using students samples can provide examples of what success and varying levels of success look like and thus criteria for assessment. The samples Davies describes also allow for differentiation by providing examples of how learning can be demonstrated in a “multitude of ways” (33). Students can see examples and develop criteria based on what they see as exemplary work in the pieces (34).

Samples can work to make expectations clear and to make feedback and evaluation equal. For English, writing can be a difficult thing to assess, but providing examples would be helpful for students and teachers. I think it is beneficial for students to read a sample piece, identify what worked and what didn’t, and then create a criteria based on what identified writing as good. This helps them as writers, but it also helps me assess student writing in a productive way. If I can show students, if peers can identify, and if students can self-assess what they did well and what they need to improve, then it will make assessing student writing easier and more valuable.

In addition to these kind of samples, I like the idea that Gallagher proposes for English Language Arts. Gallagher describes avoiding only showing students perfect examples (52-53). Students need examples of the process, so that they can see where the idea starts and how it is made better until the final product is reached. I think samples of process are very important to include.

I also like the idea of using samples as a way to support differentiation. It can be difficult to create assessments that support students in showing their learning in many different ways. If there is a portfolio of what has been done and what we can look for in those works, then differentiation will be better supported and more accessible for students.

Black, P. and D. Wiliam. 1998. The Manufactured Crisis. Don, Mills, ON: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

Davies, Anne. Making Classroom Assessment Work. 3rd ed. Courtenay, B.C.: Connections Pub., 2011. Print.

Gallagher, Kelly. Teaching Adolescent Writers. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers., 2006. Print.


One thought on “Assessment: Describing Success

  1. Paige,

    I also found the idea using examples in the classroom to be a very powerful one. It is only fair that we, as the assessors of student work, let the assessed know what is going to be looked for. This goes back to the point I made in my blog post about transparency, and how providing these examples creates a more transparent classroom.
    Also, providing examples does help to break the “Grecian Urn”, as Gallagher calls it. We cannot put too high of expectations on our students, or they may feel overly intimidated and not even try the assessment we have provided.
    As well, I never thought of how providing examples makes assessing easier for us as teachers. It was true what you said about how we are providing ways for students to begin to self-assess, and to have their peers make assessments of a student’s work as well. It’s just here I believe you were saying processes would come more into play; students would be assessed and having made self-edits, and having peers edit their work to be successful with an assignment.

    Once again, a very well-written post,

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