Assessment Literacy in a Standards-Based Education Setting

WCER Working Paper No. 2002-4

Norman L. Webb

April 2002, 19 pp.

ABSTRACT: This is a report of ongoing work in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) in the area of assessment literacy. An increase in mandates from both state and district and the MPS decentralization of assessment functions to schools have placed a greater demand on teachers and principals to effectively implement and use assessments. Although the district has a history in the last decade of using performance assessments and developing curriculum standards, high teacher turnover and expanding assessment responsibilities for teachers have increased the number of teachers with only a minimum knowledge of assessment and little understanding of how to apply assessments in a standards-based system. Assessment literacy is defined as the knowledge of (a) the means for assessing what students know and can do, (b) the interpretation of the results from these assessments, and (c) application of assessment results to improve student learning and program effectiveness. The district has transformed its assessment system into a Balanced Assessment System, including both external norm-referenced assessments and criterion-referenced, classroom-based assessments. Teachers and schools are confronted with applying and using the classroom assessments to judge a student’s proficiency in a content area in relation to district standards. They have to make sense of the results they obtain from the assessments they administer in their classrooms and correlate these with their students’ results on the state and district external assessments. Working with the MPS Division of Research and Assessment, we have designed a workshop on the assessment basics to be given in spring 2002. This workshop has been designed to respond to the most immediate needs of the district in this area, while providing more information about the needs of teachers and schools.

Full Paper

keywords: Assessment; Systemic Reform; Standards-Based Curriculum