Professional Learning Communities: Using Data to Collaboratively Improve Instruction for ELs

Reading List: Interim Assessments

 **Goertz, M.E., Olah, L.N., & Riggan, M. (2009). Can interim assessments be used for instructional change? (CPRE Policy Brief RB-51). Philadelphia, PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Available at

 Drawing from a sample of elementary school mathematics classrooms, this brief examines how teachers gather, analyze and use evidence from interim assessments to change classroom instruction and how school and district policies affect the way teachers perform these actions. The study finds that interim assessments are helpful, but not sufficient, to inform instructional change. The paper concludes with recommendations on how to improve the design of interim assessments and how districts and schools can support the use of interim assessments.

Herman, J. L., Osmundson, E., & Dietel, R. (2010). Benchmark assessments for improved learning (AACC Report). Los Angeles, CA: University of California. Available at:

This report discusses the ways in which benchmark assessments can be used to guide and inform instruction. The authors first explain how benchmark assessments can be used to communicate learning expectations, plan curriculum and instruction, monitor and evaluate learning, and predict future performance. The authors then describe criteria districts should consider when choosing a benchmark assessment (reliability, validity, and alignment with curriculum). The report concludes with a discussion of the resources and infrastructure necessary to successfully implement a benchmark assessment system, such as professional development and systems for analyzing data.

Heritage, M. (2010). Formative assessment and next-generation assessment systems: Are we losing an opportunity?Washington, D.C.: Council of Chief State School Officers. Available at

The author reviews existing research on formative assessment and outlines various definitions of formative assessment. The author argues that despite what we know of formative assessments, there is danger of overlooking the benefits they can bring to teaching and learning if they are viewed solely as a measurement instrument rather than a practice that is integrated into the classroom. Presenting an overview of the learning process and the ways in which formative assessments work with different theories of learning, the author concludes with a discussion of the roles of formative assessment in the measurement and learning paradigms and within the wider context of educational change.

Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2004). Working inside the black box: Assessment for learning in the classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 9-21. Available at

 This article—a follow-up to the well-known 1998 “Inside the Black Box” article—discusses a project aimed at empowering teachers to change students from passive to active learners through formative assessment. The authors present suggestions for four classroom practices to improve students’ learning: 1) interactive, in-depth questioning of students, 2) feedback to students through written comments rather than just grades and scores, 3) students’ peer- and self-assessments with teacher support, and 4) students’ formative use of summative tests with teacher support. Finally, the authors discuss school policies that may prevent the effective use of formative assessment, such as an overemphasis on graded homework and an under-emphasis on constructive, written feedback on these assignments.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-174. Available at at

In this article, Black and Wiliam cite strong evidence that enhancing formative assessment can result in learning gains and increased standards. They argue that formative assessment makes up the core of effective teaching and is indivisible from instruction. However, effectively implementing formative assessment is challenging and requires addressing the “black box,” or the heart of teaching and learning in the classroom. The authors provide proposal for implementing this work.

**This document is considered a priority reading.