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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Assessment, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. How to Assess Students’ Digital Writing – Ideas from Troy Hicks’ New Book

In Assessing Students’ Digital Writing:Protocols For Looking Closely, Troy Hicks and a team of forward looking educators have given us lenses through which to appreciate and evaluate the type of digital creativity that students seem adept at...

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2. Where Do We Go Next? Use a Checklist!

Do your on-demand writing samples go into a folder or do they help you plan your next steps?

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3. What Do You See?

We see what we choose to see when we look at student writing.

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4. Evaluate to Advocate!

As National Library Legislative Day approaches, we must all be ready to answer the question that hangs over meetings with representatives who are lobbied daily for fiscal and political support:

Why? Why care about library services for and with teens?

It can be difficult for us, who regularly see the fruits of our labors in the smiles, small steps and cool projects our teens generate to encapsulate our stories into sound bites and elevator speeches that resonate with policy makers. Lets make it easier.


During the month of April, YALSA’s Advocacy Support Task Force has been using #Act4Teens to tweet out tips to help members reach this month’s featured Advocacy Benchmark:

Collects evaluative data to envision teen services.

In order to share our stories with congress members, local policy makers and stakeholders, we must be able to say what difference we are making in our communities. To do this, we must know what are goals are, and how well we’re accomplishing them.

YALSA’s new Teen Programming Guidelines provide us with the steps to achieve this, starting with identifying the unmet needs of teens in the specific community, through designing programs to address those needs to evaluating those programs.

Teen Programming Guideline #10:

Engage in youth-driven, evidence-based evaluation and outcome measurement.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to be burdening your teens with even more standardized tests. The point is to assess the program, not the students. The outcome for any particular program or service might be an “improvement or expansion of knowledge, skills, confidence, attitude, or behavior” (TPG#10.2).  For instance, one desired outcome for a Teen Homework Center might be that students increase their desire to learn for pleasure. A strategy to reach it might be to have tutors and library staff who help students connect their assignments to a personal interest, for instance, memorizing math formulas by putting them to music in the recording studio. A quick survey or interview with the students will help assess if the students have a more positive view of assignments as opportunities for new learning projects. Tallies might show that the longer students have been members of the Homework Center, the more self-driven questions they ask mentors and tutors or the more books they check out for personal reading. All of this helps assess how your strategies are working, and provides you with an excellent, and meaningful sound bite to use in advocacy efforts, such as:

75% of teens who participate regularly in the library’s Teen Homework Center demonstrate an increased desire to learn for pleasure.

Throw this info into a quick video with the math song, and show some data about how reading and learning for pleasure is one of the greatest indicators of future success, and you have yourself a pretty impenetrable argument in favor of library services for and with teens.

This is, of course, just one example. Increasingly, libraries are using outcome measures to provide this type of evaluative data, not only for advocacy efforts, but also to achieve best practices. The following articles and guides provide a framework for how you and your library can evaluate to advocate:

"After School Programs." YALSA Wiki. Accessed April 28, 2015. http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/After_School_Programs#Determining_.26_Measuring_Outcomes

Andres, Heidi. "Working with Outcomes: A Worthwhile Challenge." Young Adult Library Services Online. January 11, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2015. http://www.yalsa.ala.org/yals/working-with-outcomes-a-worthwhile-challenge/

Genett, Johannah. "Measuring Outcomes for Teen Technology Programs."Young Adult Library Services 13, no. 1 (2014): 25-29. http://yalsdigital.ala.org/i/405469-vol-13-no-1-fall-2014/26

Kepple, Sarah. “Intentionally Backwards, the Future of Learning in Libraries.” Young Adult Library Services 12, no. 1 (2013): 33-37. http://leonline.com/yals/12n1_fall2013.pdf

"Making the Case." American Library Association. November 7, 2008. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/advocacyuniversity/toolkit/makingthecase


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5. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Project Outcome & Field-Based Examples of Measuring Outcomes of Young Adult Services

YALSA’s recently updated Teen Programming Guidelines encourage the use of evidence-based outcome measurement as a means of developing meaningful programs for young people. The Public Library Association - through its latest field-driven initiative, Project Outcome - is also working to assist with librarians’ efforts to capture the true value and impact of programs and services. At ALA Annual 2016, PLA will launch Project Outcome, designed to help any programmer measure outcomes beyond traditional markers such as circulation and program attendance. Instead, Project Outcome focuses on documenting how library services and programs affect our patrons’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors. It will help librarians use concrete data to prove what they intuitively know to be true: Communities are strengthened by public libraries and patrons find significant value in library services.

Lessons from the Field:  Skokie (IL) Public Library

At Skokie Public Library, we participated in the pilot testing of Project Outcome in the fall of 2014 by administering surveys for 10 different programs. The surveys were conducted online, on paper, and through in-person interviews. In one example, teens attending a class about biotechnology were interviewed using a survey designed to measure outcomes for “Education/Lifelong Learning.” Participants ranked the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with statements measuring knowledge, confidence, application, and awareness. Results showed that 85% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they learned something helpful, while only 43% agreed or strongly agreed that they intended to apply what they just learned. The results demonstrated some improvement in subject knowledge, information that can be useful for advocacy. But it also revealed that there’s room for growth in ensuring program participants understand how they can apply what they’re learning. In an open-ended question asking what they liked most about the program, teens mentioned the chemical experiments conducted during the program. This type of data is something that we can pay attention to when planning future programs.

In another example, we surveyed teens participating in a program titled, “Slam Poetry: Are We So Different?” Since this program was part of a community-wide initiative to discuss how race shapes our lives, we asked questions to measure the impact on participants’ knowledge, awareness, and application. 83% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they felt more knowledgeable about the issues of race and racism in the community, while 67% agreed or strongly agreed that the program inspired them to take action or make a change. This type of outcome measurement goes much deeper into measuring the true influence of a program than simply recording the number of attendees.

Moving forward, we’ll continue to experiment with different Project Outcome surveys while also exploring other techniques. For long-term engagement, we are developing in-house digital badging systems. We prototyped a simple badging game for Teen Tech Week that provided data about the preferences of our teen patrons (see report). Not only do badges tally how many people are participating, they illuminate user behaviors on a granular level. Badges also make different opportunities throughout the library more visible and help teens track their progress toward mastery of a skill or subject.

Whether through Project Outcome or alternative techniques, evaluating outcomes is a fluid process. We’ll keep experimenting because the information we’re gathering is helpful for advocating for the library and improving what we’re doing so that we can have a greater impact on the people we serve. What we're learning confirms that the library plays a crucial role in teens’ lives, which is why it is so important to use outcome measures to make an even stronger case for funding, partnerships, adding staff, and garnering community support.

If you are interested in learning how to enroll in Project Outcome once it launches, please sign up for ongoing updates at http://www.ala.org/pla/performancemeasurement or contact Emily Plagman, Project Manager with PLA at eplagman@ala.org.


For more information about Skokie Public Library’s use of outcome measures, contact:

Amy Holcomb (aholcomb@skokielibrary.info)

Amy is the Experiential Learning Librarian at Skokie Public Library and coordinates the BOOMbox and participates in other STEAM initiatives for learners of all ages.

Richard Kong (rkong@skokielibrary.info)

Richard is the Deputy Director at Skokie Public Library and helped implement the pilot testing of Project Outcome.

Shauna Masura (smasura@skokielibrary.info)

Shauna is a Young Adult Librarian at Skokie Public Library and facilitates a wide range of events and services for teens.


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6. Aim Higher: Some Tools For Mid Year Assessments

At the end of this week, the  second marking period will officially come to an end for many of us, and so will the first half of our school year.  This is the… Continue reading

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7. Using Assessment Tools to Teach Transference

Valuable lessons can be learned when an assessment tool designed for one genre is used to assess another.

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8. Conversations About Standards-Based Report Cards: Do Your Students Know How They’re Doing?

And with November, comes report cards.

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9. October Means Fall Leaves, Halloween, and Summer Reading?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

We often think of autumn as a time with cooler weather, changing leaves, and upcoming holidays on the horizon.  This October our thoughts are not only on all the fun fall has to offer, but the opportunities the upcoming summer season can provide.  Our library staff is currently assessing our summer reading services and evaluating the reasons behind why we do what we do.  During this autumn, we will examine many of the logistical aspects of our summer reading plans to ensure we offer the very best program for children and their families.  What plans does your library have to alter your reading program once summer rolls around?

What’s In a Name?

For many years, our Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center in North Carolina has referred to our months of summer reading programming as our summer reading club, or more informally as SRC. During the summer, we offer many special programs and also have the opportunity for children to be read to or to read independently to receive prizes during the summer.   This year we are evaluating the name of our Summer Reading Club to see if it best suits our library’s mission and goals.  Should we consider these special events to be part of a larger summer reading program, or do we consider our summer reading extravaganza to be a club that our young members can join?  In some library systems, SRC refers to a summer reading challenge where library staff asks participants to take a more active role in setting their own reading goals. What name do you give to summer reading in your library system?

The Art of Measuring

Perhaps you measure the success of your program by the number of library visits a child makes over the summer or the overall circulation figures within your children’s department.  Maybe you encourage your young participants to read so many minutes or a certain number of books, or your library encourages children to set their own individual reading goal. In the past, we tracked how many hours children read as a marker of success as children received different prizes for reaching each predetermined goal set by library staff. We are now considering providing an option where participants can set their own reading goal after they finish our traditional reading program.  Additionally, we are examining the incorporation of an Every Child Ready to Read component where young children may participate in family activities with their parents or caregivers to enhance their summer reading experience. How do you plan to measure the success of your program this summer?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

A Plethora of Programming

Programming is essential to the value of our summer reading club.  In addition to our regularly scheduled story times, we offer various special programs and events to draw in large crowds during the summertime.  Some of these programs feature interactive art or science components while other events may feature special speakers, guest programmers, or costumed characters. This year we are discussing the idea of offering special mini-festivals at our various locations.  These festivals would incorporate some individual differences to distinguish the festivals from one another and to encourage customers to attend festivals at more than one location; this special programming would be tailored to meet the needs, interests, and resources available at our individual library branches. These festivals would also increase the opportunities staffers have to work with one another from our various branches.  Providing mini-festivals in addition to our regular programming could very well create a new opportunity for us to enhance our summer reading schedule.

We are still in the beginning steps of our summer reading plans for 2015.  There is so much value in assessing how we can maximize our summer reading experience for children and their families when June arrives. As we consider how we will name our summer reading events, measure our success, and examine some options for innovative programming, it is exciting to think of all the options ahead for an amazing summer reading experience. What new summer reading plans are you considering?  Sharing your thoughts may spark new practices or programs in other libraries.  Please add your ideas to the comments below!

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10. What’s An On-Demand?

On-demand assessments allow us to check and see, rather than speculate, on what kids already know and can do. Then we can make well-informed choices about what to teach.

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11. Ending a Year of Teaching Writing with a Group Reflection

One thing I love so much about being an educator is the cyclical nature of the school year. The beginning of the year brings promise, renewed energy, and a certain mania. The middle… Continue reading

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12. Ending a Year of Teaching Writing with a Group Reflection

One thing I love so much about being an educator is the cyclical nature of the school year. The beginning of the year brings promise, renewed energy, and a certain mania. The middle… Continue reading

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13. An End of the Year Writing Check

At the end of the school year, we are often faced with pages and pages of student writing. Most of it may have gone home already, but now is a great time to… Continue reading

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14. Slice of Life in the classroom: How to rubric and grade our project

Launching our yearlong Slice of Life writing challenge is an exhilarating experience for my sixth graders. None of them have done any type of digital writing, and the very idea of posting a… Read More

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15. Direct Instruction, Part 4

What I hate about soccer are the low scoring games that often result in no "action" (as satirized by this classic Simpson's clip). The one thing I do like about soccer is that a World Cup really does involve the "world," unlike certain (ahem) other sports.

Imagine, however, a soccer team that drills all day long but never actually competes. Such a team would be like the North Korean soccer team who allowed 12 goals in a mere three games in the World Cup. (To put things in perspective, the winning team, Spain, scored a total of 8 points for all 7 games of the World Cup. Ouch.) At the other extreme, imagine a team that plays against other teams all the time but never actually practices as a team. That sounds a lot like England at the World Cup.

But what does all this have to do with Direct Instruction? Math is all about problem solving, and by "problem solving," I mean solving problems that require critical thinking. Of course, to solve problems, you need practice, practice, practice, and mastery of underlying content. A student who always drills (practices on straightforward problems) but never actually uses her critical thinking skills is like the team that always practices but never competes. At the other extreme, a student that always tries "challenging" problems but never actually drills is like the team that always competes but never practices. Neither is a successful learning strategy. A good teacher needs to find the right balance between the two for his classroom.

It is apparent, however, that blindly applying either Direct Instruction or its archnemesis—a discovery-orientated approach—can lead to both extremes. So, let's examine what works with Direct Instruction.

My favorite Direct Instruction strategy is the careful examination of pre-skills. For a gi

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16. Controversial Question in New York State Algebra 2 and Trigonometry Regents Exam

They say that there is no such thing as a stupid question. New York State mathematics teachers whose students took the Regents Exam in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry last month (June 2011) are likely to disagree. The test contained a controversial question that asked students to find the inverse of a non-invertible function. Here’s the problem in question:
The problem was in the 2-point, or short answer free response, portion of the exam, testing the learning standard that demands students “determine the inverse of a function and use composition to justify the result.” (A2.A.45) The wording of the question strongly implies that the inverse of the function does indeed exist. However, since the function given is not one-to-one, there is no inverse. Teachers got loud, complaining to representatives of the Board of Regents, the group that writes, edits, and distributes the exam. The Board responded with a memo called, “Scoring Clarification for Teachers,” which acknowledged several ways that students could interpret the question and demonstrate their understanding of invertibility of functions.

Was the response satisfactory? The Board's memo cites “variations in the use of [inverse] notation throughout New York State,” which seems to evade blame for a lousy question. A prominent math teacher blogger responded on his blog, “How could the test-makers not be aware of variations in notation? Also, notice how there is an asymmetric justification burden on a kid claiming (correctly) that the inverse does not exist.” A lousy question shakes the faith that teachers and students have in the standardized test as a valid assessment of student understanding. For instance, the same blogger concluded, “I have no confidence in New York State’s ability to create a good test of mathematics, at any level.”

It is my sincere hope that this controversy and the appearance of a misleading question will lead to both (a) more opportunities to explore the meaning of invertible functions and one-to-one functions, demanding students to be more savvy test-takers; and (b) increased scrutiny and more careful construction of New York’s Regents exams. In short, as educators, better instruction and better assessment should be our smart answer to this, or any, stupid question.

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17. Standardized Tests 2011

Here is a re-post of my blog from last year on standardized testing.  It begins next week at Sts. Peter & Paul School.  The Department of  Catholic Schools uses the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (IOWAs),  a norm referenced battery of  standardized tests, every fall in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  According to IOWA test  publishers Riverside Publishersfall testing is more desirable than spring testing.

Two important uses of test scores are to check year-to-year progress and to determine areas of relative strength and weakness. To accomplish these purposes most effectively, test results must be available early enough in the school year so that teachers and administrators have a chance to incorporate this diagnostic information into their instructional decisions.
Diagnostic information . . . and remediation strategies can  be developed based on the information from fall testing. Used properly, these results offer a predictable glimpse of which students are most at risk of not meeting academic performance goals. . . (and) allows districts to effectively use test results in a collaborative way.
Longitudinal patterns can be used to focus professional development strategies or determine instructional areas that need additional resources.
So what can you do to achieve top performance?  In my 2009 blog,
Standardized Testing on the Horizon! (9/16/2009), these tips were shared:
  • Stay positive
  • Relax
  • Pace yourself
  • Review your answers
  • Enjoy a healthy snack and maintain a balanced diet
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Get some exercise

Good luck!

Graphic from open source images englishtutors.languagespirit.com

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18. Goal Setting for Reading Success, Part 3

Empowerment Post-Assessment

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In this series for teachers, educators, and literacy coaches, Jaclyn discusses different strategies for ensuring students hit end-of-year benchmarks in reading.

Two weeks ago, I shared with you some resources to use when determining a reading goal for each student, and last week I talked about how to motivate students about their reading goal and about how to Girl Reading, from Destiny's Giftschedule out regular assessment.  Today, I want to get into the nuts and bolts of the running record assessment time, and how to create a post-assessment conference that really empowers students.

The first part of my assessment time with each individual student is the assessment itself.  Once I’ve determined the student’s independent reading level (each assessment program differs in terms of what a student needs to score to be considered independent), I take out a secondary assessment kit and read with the student on their instructional level to determine each student’s “Magic Three.”  The “Magic Three” are the three reading comprehension skills and strategies I’m going to send that student off with to focus on during their independent reading time between now and the next assessment.

When reading with a student on their instructional reading level, I consider the following:

“The word reading has two senses, often confusingly lumped together.  The first means the process of turning printed marks into sounds and these sounds into words.  But the second sense means the very different process of understanding those words.  Learning how to read in the first sense—decoding through phonics—does not guarantee learning how to read in the second sense—comprehending the meaning of what is read…[c]hildren who lag in comprehension in early grades tend to fall even further behind in later years.”

E.D. Hirsch, Jr. The Knowledge Deficit

Different running record assessment systems have different accuracy benchmarks, but when I do running record with a student, only a small percentage of what I’m looking for has to do with decoding.  On the whole, I’ve found students can decode at a far higher level than they can comprehend, so this usually isn’t a factor when dealing with a student’s instructional level.  What I look for is: a) do they comprehend the story on a BASIC level? and b) how much of the story were they able to EXTEND to comprehend on a deeper level?  Most students, when they’re reading at their instructional level, may have a few minor problems with the basic comprehension, but really tend to st

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19. On-Demand Performance Assessments & the Norming Meeting

I've administered and reviewed many on-demand pieces of writing. However, I've never engaged in a norming meeting until two weeks ago. Learn more about the ways in which we can work with our colleagues to assess on-demand assessments so they can drive our instruction.

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20. On-Demand Performance Assessments & the Norming Meeting

I've administered and reviewed many on-demand pieces of writing. However, I've never engaged in a norming meeting until two weeks ago. Learn more about the ways in which we can work with our colleagues to assess on-demand assessments so they can drive our instruction.

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21. Primary Teachers: I need your advice, please!

How much time do you think K-2 students need to complete an on-demand narrative writing assessment?

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22. Slow and Steady

Nicole Frederickson, a middle school teacher, doesn't believe in diagnostic writing assessments at the beginning of the school year. Find out why she builds a community of writers before she assesses her students.

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23. Slow and Steady

Nicole Frederickson, a middle school teacher, doesn't believe in diagnostic writing assessments at the beginning of the school year. Find out why she builds a community of writers before she assesses her students.

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24. Scoring On-Demand Assessments

Nothing truly teaches you like rolling up your sleeves and doing something. I came away with five realizations as a result from scoring K - 8 narrative on-demand assessments by myself.

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25. Slice of Life in the classroom: How to rubric and grade our project

Launching our yearlong Slice of Life writing challenge is an exhilarating experience for my sixth graders. None of them have done any type of digital writing, and the very idea of posting a… Read More

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