Balanced Assessment

with Ed Roeber, Kim Young, and Ellen Vorenkamp

Description of the Session
This session provides an overview of a balanced assessment system, characteristics of effective assessments and a process for participants to inventory and determine the quality of assessments used in their district. Such assessment systems are comprised of three major components:
  1. Summative Assessments – These assessments are defined as annual assessments of a large number of skills that provides an overall score in a content area or sub-area. The purpose for using such measures is to provide an overall view of the performance of each child in the area assessed. Such assessments are typically used for accountability and school improvement purposes
  2. Interim Benchmark Assessment – These are assessments given periodically throughout the school year. These may be given periodically, such as at the end of each marking period or quarter of a semester, or they might be administered at the end of each unit of instruction. These assessments might be used for grading or to determine who is likely to do well on the annual summative assessments.
  3. Formative Assessment Strategies for Classroom Teacher Use – These are strategies that teachers plan to use as they teach to determine if students have learned what they are teaching. If not, teachers also have a plan for how to re-teach the material immediately. If students have learned the material, the teacher has planned to move on.
Participants will prepare an inventory of the assessments used in their school or district, including those that are state-mandated and ones that have been selected at the local level. Then, in order to better understand the quality of each of these types of assessments, participants will learn about the characteristics of good assessment and then will be given the opportunity of determining the quality of the assessments used in their district.
By the end of the session, participants will have a good idea about areas of need for improving the selection and use of student assessments in their district. This needs assessment could serve to assist the participant and his or her district to improve the use of assessment to improve instruction and student learning.
Specific Outcomes for the Session
  • Participants should have an fundamental understanding of the keys to quality assessments
  • Participants should begin to understand the importance of using assessment evidence to inform individual, classroom, building, and district decision-making
  • Participants should understand that different individuals have different information needs and that multiple types of assessments are needed to meet their needs for information
  • Participants should begin to understand the different types of assessment used should be coordinated with one another and serve to provide balance to the overall assessment program
Key Topics
  • Understand that assessment methods should be matched to assessment purposes
  • Understand that different purposes require different assessments.
  • Recognize whether the assessments being used in their school or district are high quality ones, as defined by the Keys to Quality.
  • Understand that the assessments need to be coordinated so that they provide complementary information to different users
  • Demonstrate the leadership actions needed to:
  • Implement a balanced approach to assessment.
  • Select or develop assessments required.
  • Determine the quality of assessments used and determine how to improve them as necessary.
  • Help assessment users to become assessment literate.
  • Assure users are able to understand and use the assessment results appropriately.