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Balanced Assessment Systems

Balanced Assessment Systems
Leadership, Quality, and the Role of Classroom Assessment

First Edition
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July 2016 | 136 pages | Corwin

Build a balanced assessment system and support ESSA implementation!

It has never been more important to develop balanced assessment systems that can provide meaningful information, improve teaching practices, and help students learn. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) increases assessment flexibility and responsibilities for states and districts—an opportunity to change assessment for the better.

Authors Chappuis, Commodore, and Stiggins have helped thousands of teachers, principals and other educational leaders in becoming assessment-literate and developing assessment systems built on quality assessment. This comprehensive new guide provides clear steps and strategies for developing an assessment system, and includes many interactive exercises designed for professional development and system implementation. Readers will learn how to:

  • Create a balanced assessment system and analyze the progress being made within your school or district toward it
  • Develop and implement assessment systems that are both formative (measuring learning in progress) and summative (verifying learning that has taken place)
  • Take specific leadership actions that advance the balance and quality of assessment systems
  • Help teachers integrate formative assessments into classroom instruction
  • Empower students by involving them in the assessment process

Take action now to make proactive, positive changes in your school or district’s approach to assessment!

About the Authors
Part 1. Balanced Assessment Systems and Student Learning
Today’s Assessment Environment

Assessment and the New School Mission

Building Local Assessment Systems for Balance and Quality

Inside the System

Levels of Assessment Use

Classroom Assessment

Interim/Benchmark Assessment

Annual Assessment

Activity 1.1: Formative or Summative?

The Benefits of Balance

Learning Targets for Readers

Thinking About Assessment: Support Resources for Part 1

Activity 1.2: Embracing the Vision of a Standards-Based School

Activity 1.3: Discussing Key Assessment Concepts With Faculty

Part 2. Five Assessment Actions for Balance and Quality
Action 1: Balance Your Assessment System

Is Your Assessment System in Balance?

Strategies for Balancing Assessment Systems

Activity 2.1: Conducting an Assessment Audit

Action 2: Continue to Refine Achievement Standards

What Is the Current State of Your Achievement Standards?

Student- and Family-Friendly Learning Targets

Activity 2.2: Deconstructing Standards Into Classroom-Level Achievement Targets: Practice for School Leaders

Action 3: Ensure Assessment Quality

How Can You Ensure Assessment Quality?

Activity 2.3: Indicators of Sound Classroom Assessment Practice

Action 4: Build Effective Systems for Communicating Assessment Results

Action 5: Link Assessment to Student Motivation With Assessment for Learning Strategies

Assessment for Learning: Bringing Students Onboard

Activity 2.4: Assessment for Learning Self-Evaluation

Thinking About Assessment: Support Resources for Part 2

Activity 2.5: Local Assessment System Self-Evaluation

Part 3. Individual Leadership Actions for Balance and Quality
Individual Leadership Actions

Individual Leadership Action 1: Deepen your personal understanding of a sound and balanced assessment system and the conditions required to achieve it.

Activity 3.1: Merging Local and State Assessment Systems

Individual Leadership Action 2: Promote the necessity and use of clear academic achievement standards in every subject and grade level with aligned classroom-level learning targets and the understanding of their relationship to the development ....

Activity 3.2: Implementing the Written Curriculum

Individual Leadership Action 3: Promote and communicate standards of quality for student assessments, helping teachers learn to assess accurately, and work to ensure that these standards are met in all school/district assessments.

Activity 3.3: Verifying Teachers’ Content Knowledge and Assessment Competence

Individual Leadership Action 4: Deepen your knowledge of formative assessment practices that involve students and work with staff to integrate them into classroom instruction.

Activity 3.4: Communicating Learning Targets in Student-Friendly Language

Individual Leadership Action 5: Create the conditions necessary for the appropriate use and reporting of student achievement information, including report card grades.

Grading and Reporting

Activity 3.5: A Rubric for Sound Grading Practice

Activity 3.6: When Grades Don’t Match the State Assessment Results

Individual Leadership Action 6: Form or participate in peer learning groups to practice observing and evaluating teacher classroom assessment competencies.

Activity 3.7: Should Teachers Be Held Accountable for Assessment Competence Through Evaluation?

Individual Leadership Action 7: Review and examine current school/district assessment-related policies for alignment to sound assessment practice, and encourage revision as needed.

Activity 3.8: Using School/District Policies to Support Quality Assessment

Thinking About Assessment: Support Resources for Part 3

Activity 3.9: Auditing for Balance in Classroom Curriculum and Assessment

Activity 3.10: Assessment Leadership Success Indicators

Activity 3.11: Action Planning for Assessment Balance and Quality



Stephen J. Chappuis

Steve Chappuis has served as a public school teacher, principal and district administrator. In the private sector he helped small and large education service companies establish strategic plans for professional development and publishing. He has delivered presentations around the country to school leaders on the benefits of quality classroom assessment and how to implement local balanced assessment systems, and has authored and co-authored books and articles on the same topics. More About Author

Carol Ann Commodore

Carol Commodore is an independent consultant whose special interests center on leadership, assessment, systems thinking, motivation and learning. An educator for more than 30 years, she served as a classroom teacher, a department chair, an assistant superintendent and an assessment coordinator. During her tenure as a district leader she facilitated the establishment of new programs in the areas of balanced assessment and foreign language. Carol has coauthored three other books in the areas of assessment and leadership. Carol presents and consults for local, state, national and international organizations across North America, Asia, and... More About Author

Richard J. Stiggins

Rick Stiggins has devoted his professional life to understanding keys to student academic success in the classroom. His mission has been to help teachers, school leaders, policy makers, and school communities apply research-based policies and classroom practices that help all students experience the highest-possible levels of learning success.His preparation to fulfill this mission began as a psychology major at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, followed by doctoral studies in educational psychology at Michigan State University. Rick’s focus on keys to student success was sharpened with early career experiences at the... More About Author

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