Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beyond Gold Stars

The days of the gold star on a worksheet have passed. Engaging in meaningful assessment tied to specific learning outcomes is no longer limited to classroom teachers. It needs to be integral to the information literacy curriculum of every school library.

Like many school districts, we have been engaged in curriculum mapping, discussions around the new Common Core State Standards, and the new regulations surrounding the supervision and evaluation of teachers in the state of Massachusetts. These are complicated discussions with important implications for school librarians.

Student achievement is at the heart of these activities and discussions. How do I, in my role, support student learning? What data do I collect that documents this learning? Am I holding myself to the same standard as my classroom colleagues?

These words from Richard DuFour were shared during a recent leadership team discussion:

"To what extent are the students learning the intended outcomes of each course? and What steps can I take to give both students and teachers the additional time and support they need to improve learning?"


The full article is well worth a look. It focuses us on what we need to do to participate as fully accountable educators within our schools.

  1. Clarify outcomes - What is the goal of each lesson? Is the goal transparent and assessed?
  2. Common assessments - How do we know if we are succeeding? Regular assessments are important, but we also need to be developing common assessments to obtain evidence on our effectiveness as teachers in improving student learning.
  3. Analyze results - Share this data with collaborating teachers and our administrative evaluators. Where is there room for professional growth? Where are our strengths, and where do we need to focus on improvement?
Working with our English Department, we have developed a core curriculum unit with embedded common assessments.  Sophomore students will be doing historical research to build context before starting to read The Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison. During this inquiry I will be teaching research skills, source citation, and providing a final, summative assessment on student works cited pages. This requires generating assessment rubrics for the skills I want my students to acquire.

Things I am thinking about:
  • How effectively can I provide formative feedback to both the student and teacher during the course of the unit? 
  • How will I leverage the face-to-face class time with students into an effective online partnership as they do their research independently?
  • How will I effectively collect and manage the assessment data to provide evidence of student learning and growth? 
Identifying opportunities for grade level common assessments will be an ongoing challenge, and a change in the way I have worked in the past. I am looking forward to moving our information literacy curriculum to a new level, with assessments to gauge the impact on student learning.

Gold stars are still nice. I'll stick one at the top of each summative assessment. 


The Learning-Centered Principal




May 2002 | Volume 59 | Number 8
Beyond Instructional Leadership    Pages 12-15 
The Learning-Centered Principal
Richard DuFour





2 comments:

  1. Well said Robin. As the TL at my high school, I struggle to make those IL skills relevant and authentic for students. I used to teach a separate IL course to grade 7 students, but I find that the skills just don't transfer over into 'real world' inquiry. And assessing these skills in isolation seems wrong.

    Teaching this skills within the already existing curriculum (embedded, not in isolation), has been much more successful. However, finding the time to collaborate with teachers and leave the Learning Commons (it's just me and the library assistant), is a challenge. As well, being a part of the assessment process of those skills is tough, but not impossible. I am interested to hear how your journey goes, and I hope to continue to follow in your footsteps!

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  2. Thanks for posting CHHS Library Girl! I appreciate the feedback : )

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