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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

Summer Institute 2016: Top Ten Takeaways

Last week, we held our 7th annual Quality Performance Assessment Summer Institute. Thirty-eight educators from five states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia) convened at Simmons College in Boston, with a commitment to creating opportunities that enable educators and students to assume greater ownership of their learning.

As the national educational landscape evolves, more schools are exploring ways to engage educators in making the shift towards multiple, dynamic assessments as a means of measuring student progress. At QPA Summer Institute, educators dove into this important work—exploring tools and processes that promote greater collaboration in validating the quality of performance assessments and developing a reliable approach toward creating scoring norms on student work. Participants practiced using strategies to facilitate professional dialogue with colleagues, and discussed strategies to engage a wider group in the advocacy and development of performance assessments in their schools and districts.

Together with participants, we have gleaned a list of the Top Ten Takeaways from Summer Institute. We hope these insights might guide work in your school and your professional learning communities, as you collaborate with colleagues to create more student-centered, complex, and authentic learning experiences in your classrooms.

Number 10: Imagine the possibilities for local assessments in 2016-17

“During our planning time, one thought or question led to another and then another. There are so many possibilities that it is hard to know where to start, but I think all the brainstorming really helped me think about avenues I wouldn't have thought of.”

Number 9: Think deeper about teaching craft

“Today, I switched gears completely and started to revise an old activity I've used in the past but have never been satisfied. Today's discussions and reflection time led me to think deeply about my previous dissatisfaction with the assignment (although it's one of my favorites, just not as good as it could be), especially in terms of assessing the non-cognitive skills that are critical to success in the assignment.”

Number 8: Learn from others

“Hearing from current practitioners using performance assessments was very helpful. Not just hearing about their practices, but hearing about their growing pains. So often we talk about topics like these in an almost abstract way, and hearing about real struggles and real successes makes it seem much more approachable.”

Number 7: To create strong rubrics is hard work

“I thought a lot about the rubrics that I have created in the past and how I want to improve them. I have always found it difficult to create the descriptors for the expert row without just tacking on adjectives or adverbs. Yesterday and today, I saw examples of several rubrics that had an expert row that said something along the lines of ‘meets the expectations of proficient and also...’ I want to revise my rubrics to use this tactic.”

Number 6: Push your thinking

“I enjoyed meeting educators from different school settings from my own. In my conversations with them, they helped pushed my thinking about how I approach my work and the expectations I have for my students. It felt like a professional environment in which to learn.”

Number 5: Build processes to support development of Quality Performance Assessments

“The validation protocol was especially helpful. I have made many, many performance tasks in my teaching career, some of which I have been happy with, and some of which I knew didn't quite hit the mark. However, I didn't have a way of analyzing them or receiving methodical feedback. This protocol will really help with that - and I can use the checklist for myself even if I can't complete the entire protocol with a group of teachers.”

Number 4: Identify opportunities to increase educator buy-in for assessment work

“Just like in our classrooms we should ask, 'How can we make students excited to do this hard work?' We need to also ask, 'How can we get the teachers in our school excited to create performance assessments for our students? How can we show teachers that their hard work will pay off?'"

Number 3: Promote equity through scoring norms

“The calibration activity was eye-opening in terms of how schools can create processes that support equitable outcomes for all students. It really emphasized how difficult it is to create a rubric with clear and high expectations for student performance, and the importance of educators to measure the attainment of them in consistent and reliable ways.”

Number 2: Incorporate student voice intentionally in assessment practices

“I have been thinking about how to incorporate students into the rubric development process, allowing them to experience the trials and rewards of a rubric."

Number 1: Embrace the power of continual improvement

“I really loved hearing that assessments are constantly in need of REVISION and that technical quality is a complex and collaborative journey, NOT a destination. I will be using this as a theme for the upcoming school year with my staff.”

For more information on what performance assessment work can look like in your school, check out this video of fourth graders assessing angels with a marshmallow launcher: