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Standards-based assessment and Instruction


Posts Tagged ‘anchor papers’

Formative Assessment Tools

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

What are some of the strategies that you use in your classrooms to foster formative assessment?

Effective use of formative assessment in the classroom is one the most powerful ways to improve student achievement. Research shows that the improvement in performance is dramatic.

Successful formative assessment includes:

  1. Asking meaningful questions, increasing the wait time for student answers and having rich follow-up activities that extend student thinking. (13)
  2. Providing meaningful feedback to students on what was done well, what needs improvement and offering guidance on how to make improvements.
  3. Ensuring that students have a clear understanding of the standards and are taught the skills of peer- and self-assessment. (15)

Exemplars rubrics can be a useful tool in implementing some of these strategies. Many students are able to successfully internalize standards that are reflected in rubrics.  In addition to our Assessment Rubrics, we have developed a number of student rubrics that can be used by children when they are very young. Our “Jigsaw Rubric” combines both verbal and visual components that make each element of the Exemplars Standard Math Rubric explicit for students. While this rubric was initially developed for primary students, it is popular with middle school and even high school teachers. Other examples of student rubrics for math and science can be seen here.

Students can be introduced to rubrics at a very young age. For tips and suggestion on how to do this, refer to our article, “Introducing Rubrics to Students.” There are also several sample introductory rubrics available on our web site. While we do make these examples available, it is important for your students to first develop their own rubric before exposing them to these. Through this process, students learn what a rubric is and how to use it. A student favorite is the “Chocolate Chip Cookie Rubric.” Another favorite asks students to develop a rubric for assessing running shoes.

In our classroom modeling workshops, a “Thumbs Up – Thumbs Down Rubric” is used with very young students. To see this in action, click on the video link at the bottom of this post.

Teachers can also use Exemplars anchor papers to help students learn how to better use the rubric to assess their own work as well as that of their peers. Additionally, anchor papers can be used to help students visualize what work meets the standard and what work doesn’t.

In addition to our rubrics and anchor papers, Exemplars offers many other formative assessment tools for both teachers and students, such as questioning guides.

Paul Black, C. H., Clare Lee, Bethan Marshall, and Dylan Wiliam (2004). “Working Inside the Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Classroom”. Phi Delta Kappan: 9-21.

Using Anchor Papers to Help Teachers and Students Understand the Common Core

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

By: Ross Brewer, Ph.D., Exemplars President

Assessing what our students know and are able to do, where they stand with regard to meeting the standards, and how teaching and learning activities might be improved are among the most common uses for evaluating student work. Key to this is creating sets of anchor papers. With the new standards and learning expectations outlined in the Common Core, anchor papers can be a useful tool for helping your teachers and students see and understand what meeting the new standards will “look” like in their classrooms.

What are anchor papers?

Anchor papers are examples of student work at different levels of performance that, along with rubrics, guide formative and summative assessments. Schools and districts can either build their own collections of anchor papers over time or reference examples like those provided by Exemplars.

How can they help?

In addition to identifying where students are in terms of meeting a particular standard, anchor papers can be examined as a way to understand the learning opportunities we are, and are not, giving our students. These can also be used to train school and district assessment teams as well as evaluate how accurately and consistently teachers are assessing students. One way to do this is to ask teachers to assess previously assessed work and compare their scores to the “approved” scores. There are guides and protocols for these types of activities, which are, no doubt, the most important uses of student work. For specific examples and to learn more, visit the Looking at Student Work Web site.

Becca Lindahl, formerly the School Improvement Coordinator for the Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools, describes her diocesan’s professional development “scoring” days in the following manner:

Our diocesan’s grades four and eight scoring days are some of the best professional learning we do. Teachers, with their scorers’ hats on, learn about students’ math thinking. At the end of the day, we turn back into teachers and discuss what the data is telling us and how we can perhaps make instructional decisions from the data.

This technique can be used with teachers, schools and districts.

There are many effective ways to use anchor papers.

What does meeting the standard look like at my grade level?

Written standards and rubrics define these expectations, but student work samples help make them concrete. Having teachers analyze student work from several grade levels can answer the question “Where did my students come from and where are they going?” An example of this can be seen in the Exemplars task, Marshmallow Peeps, which provides student work samples from grades: two, four, six and at the high school level.

 This technique can be used with teachers, schools and districts.

Solving problems and studying previously solved problems.

A report published by the U.S. Department of Education titled Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning states that students learn more by alternating between studying problems that have already been solved and solving their own problems, as opposed to just solving problems. (NCER 2007-2004, U.S. Department of Education, available online from the Institute of Education Sciences)

A large number of laboratory experiments and a smaller number of classroom examples have demonstrated that students learn more by alternating between studying examples of worked-out problem solutions and solving similar problems on their own than they do when just given problems to solve on their own. (9)

According to the report, using anchor papers with students addresses two classroom challenges. It saves time, as fewer problems need to be worked out, and eases the burden of assessing additional work. It also tackles the shortage of good problem-solving material that is available.

This technique can be used by teachers and students.

Teaching students to self- and peer-assess: using anchor papers as a tool.

In an earlier blog, we discussed research that showed the power of student self- and peer-assessment. Anchor papers may be used to help students learn to be successful self- and peer-assessors. After your teachers have introduced the assessment rubric to students, try putting a piece of anonymous student work on the overhead. Ask students to solve the original task (making sure they understand the solution). Then, using the assessment rubric ask students to assess the piece and share their analysis once everyone has finished. As they discuss various perspectives, students learn what work meets the standard and what work doesn’t. A great deal is also learned about problem solving.

To further extend this exercise, you could ask students how they might improve upon weaker samples so that they meet the standard. Teachers can also take work that meets the standard and ask students how they would turn it into work that exceeds the standard. By doing this, students will learn what meeting and exceeding the standard looks like.

This technique can be used by teachers and students.

Providing guidelines for students.

Anchor papers can provide students with examples of the kind of work their teachers expect. Ask your teachers make copies of student work samples for a set of problems. Include anchor papers that don’t quite meet the standard as well as work that meets and exceeds the standard. Have them discuss these pieces and link each of the solutions to the parts of the rubric that are applicable. Doing so will enable students to have a much clearer understanding of the work that is expected.

This technique can be used by teachers and students.

Making use of errors.

By highlighting errors in anchor papers, teachers can create learning opportunities for their students. In Japanese classrooms teachers use errors in student work as a teaching opportunity, whereas in American classrooms this is rarely done. In the U.S., teachers tend to continue polling students in search of the correct solution, generally ignoring errors.

Discussing errors helps to clarify misunderstandings, encourage argument and justification, and involve students in the exciting quest of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the various alternative solutions that have been proposed. The Learning Gap (Summit Books, 1992) p. 191

 This technique can be used by teachers and students.

Anchor papers to support the Common Core.

The essence of the anchor paper is to provide an accurate picture of what student work looks like at various performance levels with regard to a specific standard. Working with real student samples can help both teachers and students visualize the new learning expectations set forth by the Common Core.

Over time, your teachers can work together to build collections of student work. Exemplars also offers a large library of problem-solving tasks that are aligned to the Common Core. Each of our performance tasks include annotated anchor papers that correspond to the four levels of our assessment rubric. These are a great resource that schools and districts can use to get started.

To learn more about our performance material or view sample tasks with anchor papers select from these grade levels K–2, 3–5, 6–8 and scroll down to the links in the “Task-Specific Assessment Notes.”

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