Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Teacher Involvement in Performance Assessments is Key to Student Achievement
Press Release

RELEASE: Teacher Involvement in Performance Assessments is Key to Student Achievement

Read the report.

Washington, D.C. – As states, school districts, and teachers nationwide continue to integrate the Common Core State Standards, or CCSS, into their classrooms, a new report released today by the Center for American Progress recommends new ways to give teachers opportunities to ensure that student work is meeting the new standards, while giving them ideas for improving their own teaching. When teachers set standards for the quality of student work on performance assessments and score the work themselves, they learn the Common Core State Standards, while seeing how their own teaching connects to the standards and to student learning. Many high-performing nations have turned to teacher scoring of formative assessments as a way to support and improve teacher learning.

The Common Core State Standards—which are currently used in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories—were developed to raise achievement in the United States and to better-equip students with the high-order skills needed to compete in a 21st-century global economy. The effectiveness of these rigorous standards, however, is dependent on teachers’ ability to translate their understanding of them into enhanced student learning. In their report, authors Linda Darling-Hammond and Beverly Falk recommend involving teachers in the design, use, and scoring of student-performance assessments—a strategy that links instructions, assessment, student learning, and teacher professional development.

“The coming implementation of Common Core State Standards will certainly challenge students, but teachers will be faced with the special task of knowing them deeply, understanding what students need to know, and then being able to teach to the standards, said Cynthia G. Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at the Center for American Progress. “This report offers a unique and potentially powerful way to make sure that happens.”

The report, which includes an analysis of teacher engagement in assessment in high-performing countries, finds that these activities give teachers a clearer sense of standard expectations and how instruction can be developed around these expectations. Similarly, studies of the implementation of performance assessments in several U.S. states—including California, Kentucky, Maryland, and Ohio—found that the results of performance assessments were most positive when teachers were included in the design, scoring, and evaluation of the assessments.

As part of teachers’ continued professional development, the report also recommends that teachers participate in opportunities to learn how to apply common criteria when scoring student work and to engage with other teaching professionals to facilitate more coherent instruction across classrooms and districts. It calls for creating communities of practice in which teachers can converse about standards, explore methods of assessment, and clarify their own teaching goals while developing clearer expectations for students.

The report also illustrates that the use of common standards-based performance assessments—specifically those that are designed and evaluated by teachers—can produce many benefits, including:

  • Providing teachers with more direct and valid information about student progress than is offered by traditional assessments, especially on the deeper learning skills that characterize the CCSS
  • Enabling teachers to engage in evidence-based work that reflects more clearly and analytically on student work to inform teachers’ instructional decisions
  • Yielding information that enhances teachers’ knowledge of students, standards, curriculum, and teaching, especially when scoring is combined with debriefing and discussing next steps with other teachers

By linking teacher involvement in performance assessments to both teachers’ and students’ learning, our nation’s education system has the potential to address multiple important goals—including the quality of student outcomes and preparedness for future education—through one concentrated investment.

“If teachers are going to be able to help students meet the new Common Core standards, they must themselves have opportunities to  see what the Standards look like in action, as they are being assessed, understand what quality student work looks like, and learn how to support that kind of work in their teaching,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, co-author of the report and Professor at Stanford University Graduate School of Education. “Involving teachers in scoring student performance assessments can help them deepen their understanding of student needs and improve their classroom practice.”

Read the report: Teacher Learning Through Assessment: How Student-Performance Assessments Can Support Teacher Learning by Linda Darling-Hammond and Beverly Falk

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For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, contact Katie Peters at 202.741.6285 or [email protected].