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By Barry Sweeny, copyright 1996

Don't just develop quality assessments. Use these guidelines to be sure that all the assessments you have created work together as an effective system that will improve teaching and learning.

An effective assessment system includes:

1. A PHILOSOPHY of how good learning occurs, what good instruction is like, and what, therefore, good assessment is like.

2. PARAMETERS to guide decision making, such as, "What we will try to do." and "What we will not do.". Using a philosophy and parameters to design assessment means that the assessments are more likely to encourage good teaching practices and successful student learning

3. Clearly defined OUTCOMES/ Content & Skills Standards that specify what students must know & do


4. PERFORMANCE TASKS (tests, products & performances) that are sufficient
to reveal the extent of student mastery of content & skills in the outcomes

5. ASSESSMENT FEATURES (traits) which define the prerequisite knowledge and/or skills to be assessed by each performance task

6. A RUBRIC with a scoring SCALE for each feature to be assessed

7. Course or grade level STANDARDS which are set for each scale on a rubric

8. ANCHORS- student work examples for each level of the rubric

9. Student & teacher DIRECTIONS and a description of required assessment conditions and limitations

10. TRAINED STAFF who know:

· How to use the rubric to score student work
· How to teach the rubric's criteria for excellence to students
· The reasons for requiring uniform assessment practices

11. A STAFF DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM for training any new staff & periodically "refreshing the memory" of existing staff who will use the assessments

12. AN ASSESSMENT REVISION PROCESS AND TIME TABLE - The original philosophy and parameters, the documentation from the assessment design process, and the experience of staff who designed and piloted the assessments need to be available to those making revision decisions. That way these people can build on the strengths of earlier efforts and learning so there is assessment continuity and the work leads to improvement across time.


You may duplicate this material as long as you retain these credits:
By Barry Sweeny, Resources for Staff and Organization Development
26 W 413 Grand Ave. Wheaton, IL 60187 (630) 668-2605, email is [email protected]

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