With the search for innovative assessment systems, states and districts are deeply engaged in finding new options. One thing we hear from state and local assessment staff is that time is already short. How can we devote time to thinking strategically and creatively, much less to try things out in schools?
We’ve identified 10 sources of time pressure that might create roadblocks to innovation.
Top 10 Time Issues
>> Initiative Fatigue—Time to Prepare to Innovate
We’ve covered the first nine topics in previous blogs. In this post we’ll address the last one: “initiative fatigue.”
Initiative Fatigue—Time to Prepare to Innovate
What’s the problem?
Formative assessment, performance assessment, project-based learning, competency-based learning, personalized learning, 21st century learning and assessment . . . How can teachers find time to incorporate all of these promising approaches into their instruction? How can their school leaders help?
What can we do?
The answers are found in a few principles, many of which are embedded in the comments and solutions presented in earlier posts:
- Such initiatives should not be tackled as separate independent efforts. For example, curriculum-embedded performance assessments (CEPAs) as defined by Hofman, Goodwin, and Kahl (2015) are instructional units with formative and summative assessment activities— including performance tasks—built into them from the beginning. If formative assessment practices are implemented in the ways suggested by the research literature, there are a number of benefits.
- Students become responsible for their own learning using a variety of resources including online learning systems.
- Students’ peers are activated as resources and evaluators;
- Fewer classroom tests are needed and graded.
- Teachers can give greater attention to the students who need the most help.
- The approaches, tools, and resources associated with these initiatives should be implemented in lieu of some existing practices, tools, and resources— not as add-ons. For example, CEPAs should be used as replacement units. Formative assessment evidence-gathering should replace frequent testing. Feedback to students would generally not involve grading, because grades on formative evidence would not reflect students’ competencies after instruction.
- The transition to these new approaches can be phased in or made in small steps. For example, teachers could use just one or two CEPAs (or student projects) the first year, increasing the number used each year.
- Support of school leadership is essential. Changing grading practices, scheduling time for learning teams, providing opportunities for high-quality professional development for the teams, and the like all require support and advocacy from school leaders.