Leadership magazine May/June 2015 V 44 No 5 - Page 10

WestEd and the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), in collaboration with the California Department of Education, are currently hosting the “Building Educator Assessment Literacy” initiative across the state. This professional development strengthens teacher capacity and knowledge of Smarter Balanced Assessment performance tasks. At a larger systems level, these partners have joined to ensure summative performance assessments are connected to ongoing classroom instruction. Participants experience the SBAC-released performance tasks as learners to better understand the academic demands of the tasks, especially as they relate to SBACs claims and targets. Teachers are trained to examine student work for evidence of students’ thinking from the performance task assessment, using SBAC rubrics. They later translate their understanding of what students need to be successful in such tasks into classroom learning. Project director Jessica Arnold said, “Our theory of action is that this intensive, twoday opportunity to examine the Smarter Balanced tasks, scoring tools, and student work with fellow educators – in the context of instructional implications – will inform teacher practice.” New ideas and collegial discussions The training is aimed at strengthening teachers’ understanding of the SBAC claims and targets and how they are addressed in a performance task. However, a greater benefit is the initiative offers ideas about implementing similar instructional tasks, and shows how collegial discussions can build a collective understanding of student learning. As professional development providers, we see teachers sharing what they plan to emphasize in their own lessons to better support students. In ELA, they discuss how to support students’ perseverance and annotation skills using multiple texts, and how to guide students’ evaluation of which texts are most useful in the tasks. In mathematics, they share strategies about how to get students to carefully describe, defend and explain their solutions to complex math tasks. Building Educator Assessment Literacy is a reminder of the power of adult learn10 Leadership ing when teachers use assessments formatively. The training provides opportunities for leaders to expand upon the data team structures typically focused on quantitative scores and re-teaching of single items. Participants experience a deeper dialogue that guides the development of future learning tasks in a much more profound way. As more teachers become trained in these practices, this work has the potential to redefine what educators have known as the “alignment of the taught and tested curriculum.” It also redefines collaboration! Supporting adult learning Merced County Office of Education has taken a role supporting adult learning, as When teacher teams use student evidence to develop their combined instructional response, it increases the collective efficacy of the whole staff and the achievement of many students. teachers examine student understanding of content, question pedagogy, and negotiate with colleagues about appropriate next steps for students. Coaches play a critical role in helping teachers unpack tasks, calibrate student performance using rubrics, and make instructional decisions from patterns that emerge (Wei, Schultz & Pecheone, 2012). Facilitation throughout the formative assessment cycle will continue to be a significant way to enhance teacher collaboration. John Hattie (2012) makes a case for school leaders to create systems where there is “visible learning inside;” that is, practices that are embedded in the school culture to support adults’ un