Assessment and Teacher Leadership in the Transition to the Common Core

Selected Assessment Categories

Interim Assessments

Bulkley, K. E., Oláh, L. N., & Blanc, S. (2010). Introduction to the special issue on benchmarks for success? Interim assessments as a strategy for educational improvement. Peabody Journal of Education, 85(2), 115-124. Available at

This paper reviews the literature and research on interim assessments. The authors define interim assessments in a way that distinguishes them from formative and summative assessments in terms of frequency of administration and scope, although they acknowledge that some researchers do not consider the divides among the three to be quite so distinct. They suggest that interim assessments are particularly well positioned to inform data-driven instruction and decision-making, since interim assessments typically produce more concrete, formalized data than formative assessments while operating on a more manageable scale than summative assessments. Moreover, the data gathered from interim assessments can help facilitate continuous improvement on a larger scale than formative assessment, as the level of analysis is usually larger than one classroom. The authors also observe that research provides little evidence to establish a clear connection between interim assessments and student learning and therefore underscore the need for further research.

Herman, J. L., Osmundson, E., & Dietel, R. (2010). Benchmark assessments for improved learning (AACC Report). Los Angeles, CA: University of California.  Available at R2_benchmark_report_Herman.pdf

This report discusses the ways in which educators can use benchmark assessments to guide and inform instruction. The authors first explain how benchmark assessments can help 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 (including 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.

Common Assessments

**Ainsworth, L. (2006). Common formative assessments: An overview. (pp. 2F-1). Greenwood Village, CO: Center for Performance Assessment. Available at cali/2fdtcommonformassess.pdf

This overview articulates the key components of common formative assessments. In brief, the authors define common formative assessments as periodic or interim assessments designed by educator teams to measure student performance on essential or priority standards. The overview then lists guidelines for designing these assessments, emphasizing the importance of aligning pre- and post- assessments items with the essential standards students are expected to meet in their corresponding grade levels.  The authors conclude with a list of benefits from using common formative assessments. In particular, they underscore how assessment results can inform instructional modifications in the classroom and ultimately contribute to alignment among classroom, school, district, and state assessments.

Hawaii State Department of Education (2013). Common formative assessments: Hawaii State Department of Education. Honolulu, HI: Author. Available for members at this link.

This PowerPoint presentation provides an overview of common formative assessments and how educators can use them to monitor and improve student learning. It defines common formative assessments as an integral part of a series of instructional practices that contribute to a cycle of instructional and student improvement. The slides then discuss the importance of leveraging priority standards in the development of common formative assessments. The presentation then outlines a cycle of inquiry that data teams can use as they collect and analyze assessment results.  Together, the prioritization of standards and cycle of inquiry culminate into a continuous assessment practice that is both informed by and designed to generate data of student progress. The slides close with a list of reflections for data teams to consider as they undergo this process and ways teachers can use common assessment results.

Performance Assessment

**Darling-Hammond, L. & Falk, B. (2013, September). Teacher learning through assessment: How student-performance assessments can support teacher learning. Washington , DC: Center for American Progress. Available at TeacherLearning.pdf

This report outlines research on the potential for performance assessment to improve teacher professional development. Some research shows that, compared to other types of assessment, performance assessment is connected with higher student achievement and stronger connections to instruction. The authors also highlight other positive outcomes for teachers when they are involved in scoring performance tasks, such as increased clarity and common understanding of the standards, deeper knowledge of their students’ strengths and weaknesses, and a stronger sense of professionalism. Additionally, the authors provide some examples of performance assessment initiatives in the United States, how those organizations came to be, and descriptions of the work they do. The report concludes with recommendations for using performance assessment as opportunities for teacher growth in light of Common Core implementation.

Darling-Hammond, L. & Adamson, F. (2010). Beyond basic skills: The role of performance assessment in achieving 21st century standards of learning. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Available at

This article draws on literature about assessment and examples of assessment from around the world to  explain what performance assessment is, make a case for implementing it widely in the United States, and provide a practical guide on how to approach its development and implementation. The article begins by making the case for scaling back the use of multiple choice assessments and replacing them with performance assessments, then turns to the ways in which educators and districts assess students impact their learning. To help define performance assessments, the authors provide several examples of test items that have been used successfully, and then go into further definition of what it means to test “higher order skills.” They then include a section on how school systems around the world use performance assessment to help inform approaches to implementation in the United States. Finally, the article addresses potential challenges in using performance assessments—including issues of fairness; feasibility with regards to capacity, task design, and scoring; and costs—and explain how to mitigate those threats.

Please focus on pages 1-13 and 22-28 of this article.

Tashlik, P. (2010, March). Changing the national conversation on assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(6), 55-59. Available at

This piece showcases the work of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a consortium of 30 public high schools in New York City, Ithaca, and Rochester that center their curriculum, instruction, and overall school culture in performance assessment. Students complete performance tasks and oral presentations as their annual summative exams in most subjects, and the consortium uses rubrics, reviewed for technical quality every two years, to score students’ results. The author argues that the qualitative data produced through this assessment system, combined with commitments to measuring students on non-academic indicators (e.g. socioemotional well-being, availability of resources in the home), create a more accurate and meaningful understanding of student needs than the quantitative data typically produced by standardized assessments.

**This document is considered a priority reading.