Making classroom assessment a reality depends on leaders who not only
know the value of quality classroom assessment but also know how to get the
tools and practices into the hands of teachers. Those in positional leadership
positions such as superintendents, directors, principals, and administrators
provide instructional leadership are able to ensure quality assessment becomes
a reality in all classrooms by providing the vision and hands-on leadership that
makes in possible. Leadership is also provided by those people in support
roles such as curriculum coordinators, instructional coaches and adult learning
facilitators - all those people who help others make the important ideas
accessible for teachers and others who support student learning.
Leaders are showing an interest in classroom assessment for a number of
reasons. Some have become intrigued with the potential benefits for their
schools through their own research or through reports they have heard from
other leaders and peers. Some are looking to assessment for learning to help
them solve a problem or raise standards in their school districts. Others are
responding to demand from the grass roots, when it is the teachers, or even
parents, themselves who are asking for resources and materials.
Whatever the reason, over the past several years there has been a growing
wave of interest and desire for workshops, books, videos, and assistance. We
are excited and affirmed by this amazing response.
The leadership role is not an easy one. Change often seems to move slowly
until a critical mass is reached – and then, watch out! The last few years have
seen an increasing number of documents nationally and internationally that
support the implementation of quality classroom assessment. Systems and
schools everywhere have been addressing policy and regulations to encourage
and promote quality classroom assessment. At this point most leaders are
taking stock of how much has been achieved and planning ways to provide
continued support and encouragement so quality classroom assessment is a
reality for all learners no matter how successful they are nor how much they
may struggle as they reach towards learning and success.
Leaders face especially difficult challenges in that they need to maintain their
course in spite of the latest bandwagon ideas. Leaders are realistic. They
know they can expect the implementation of quality classroom assessment to
be a multi-year implementation process touching all levels of the organization
(we suggest five years as a minimum commitment, and seven to ten is more
realistic depending on the size of your jurisdiction).
But don't be daunted by this requirement. The benefits of classroom
assessment start to appear after the very first learning session, as teachers
begin to challenge old paradigms and discover new ways to come alongside
their learners and help them learn. Quality classroom assessment practices can
have an impact from the first day onwards!
What can curriculum leaders reasonably expect as an outcome of the
introduction of assessment in the service of learning? Primarily, more engaged
learners who do better than before by every measure (qualitative and
quantitative) because they are learning better, and more engaged teachers who
feel that they are making increasingly positive contributions to their students'
In short, expect classroom assessment to begin to transform your school
community in positive ways. This is happening over and over again in other
As a leader, you will have many other questions. What does a typical district-
wide implementation look like? What level of time commitment is required of
teachers? Of facilitators? Of administrative staff? How do you set goals? How
can you measure the results? How can you tell when things are off track and
when interventions may be required? What are the barriers to implementation,
and what are other schools doing to overcome these barriers? How do you
evaluate, measure or assess the results of an implementation's integration with
other programs and initiatives? What are the budgetary implications?
To respond to these questions and more Dr. Anne Davies and her colleagues
Sandra Herbst and Beth Reynolds, have developed the Leaders Series. In
Leading the Way to Quality Classroom Assessment they share the key ideas
behind every aspect of classroom assessment AND they list the indicators
of classroom application, explain in detail ways to support teachers, and
clearly explain how leaders can model the key ideas as they work to support
quality assessment in every aspect of their own instructional leadership. In
Transforming Schools and Systems Using Assessment for Learning they
articulate the key barriers and who practical ways leaders are transforming
schools and systems using the practices of quality assessment in the service of
Food For Thought: The video below shares some comments about classroom assessment from Dr. John Gardner, Professor of Education in the School of Education at Queen's University, Belfast.
Those Who Facilitate Adult Learning
Successful classroom assessment starts with passionate people who love to work with teachers and guide them through the concepts and practices they need to help their students learn.
All around North America and in other parts of the world, we have seen lead learners who act as facilitators in their schools and districts and help teachers get a handle on assessment for learning. They will frequently lead small groups and learning circles several times per year, giving teachers the guidance and feedback they need to make classroom assessment work for them.
The beauty of this model is that facilitators do not require a Ph.D. or years of training to get started. Assessment for learning is still a relatively new approach and therefore lacks the foundation of trained experts who can quickly get the teacher population up to speed. Facilitators are stepping into this gap with excellent results.
Facilitators typically lead learning sessions such as full-day workshops, and more frequently, one to two hour group sessions where educators have the opportunity to focus in on a single concept in assessment for learning. These include topics such as the following (which are taken from a resource for facilitators produced by Connections Publishing).
- Making Self-Assessment and Goal Setting Work
- Setting Goals
- Exploring Self-Assessment
- Involving Students in Communicating Their Learning
- Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences
- Learning to Set Criteria with Students
Our intention with this website is to support both kinds of leaders with books, events, articles, stories, discussions, research, and encouragement. Please sign up for our Mailing List and be sure to be included!
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