Assessment

Chicago Panel to Devise Curriculum-Based Tests to Guide Teaching

By Lynn Olson — January 08, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Arne Duncan, the chief executive officer of the Chicago public schools, has convened an advisory group to create an assessment system that would work alongside high-stakes tests to provide district teachers with better feedback on how to improve curriculum and teaching.

The Commission on Improving Curriculum-Based Assessment, announced in mid- December, is led by Samuel J. Meisels, the president of the Erikson Institute, a Chicago-based graduate school in child development, and Donald M. Stewart, the president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations.

The goal of the 21-member commission—which includes district personnel, principals, teachers’ union representatives, community leaders, and academics—is to devise a system of assessments from preschool through high school that “will be much more useful immediately to teachers in the classroom to inform instruction,” said Kate Nolan, the staff director and a research associate at the Erikson Institute.

Mr. Meisels added: “The high-stakes tests are going to stay because it’s not discretionary to use them. But they don’t do a very good job of helping teachers think about instruction. They can’t account for the diversity of ways that kids think and learn.”

In contrast, Mr. Meisels said, curriculum-based assessments occur throughout the school year. They focus more on profiles of learning for individual students than on reporting group results. And they can help teachers think about what comes next in the classroom.

A Change in Culture

For example, the Work Sampling System, which Mr. Meisels developed, relies on a combination of teacher checklists, portfolios of student work, and summary reports to track the progress of children in preschool through grade 6. It’s now used in more than a dozen states.

The Chicago announcement reflects the commitment of Mr. Duncan and his chief education officer, Barbara Eason-Watkins, to focus the 437,000- student district more sharply on improving classroom instruction.

“We’re really excited about it because we really think Chicago is moving in a good direction in terms of assessment,” said Julie Woestehoff, the executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, a parent education and advocacy group based in Chicago.

“We really are looking for ways that classroom-based assessment can be used in an accountability system, in addition to its importance for evaluating individual children,” she said. “And, so, we see this as a potential model for a really good assessment system that includes multiple measures.”

Last month, Mr. Duncan unveiled a new accountability system that recognizes schools for the gains they make with students and provides $10,000 cash awards to those that make the most progress, rather than just singling out low-performing schools for intervention. The new system also relies on a broader array of data to rate schools. (“New Accountability Plan Rewards Chicago Schools for Showing Score Gains,” Dec. 11, 2002.)

Over the next 15 months, the commission is charged with crafting an assessment system, drawing up a plan for its implementation and budget, and suggesting policy changes at the district and state levels to carry it out. The commission also will seek the advice of local communities. Ms. Nolan predicted that it would take two to three years to get the new system fully up and running.

“We’re probably going to have to effect a culture change in the schools for this to really be successful,” Mr. Meisels said.

“It’s going to entail that people believe this is as important as the preparation for those high-stakes tests or, better yet, that this is a way to prepare people for those tests, because better instruction will result in better outcomes.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment The State of Teaching Where Teachers Say the Pressure to Change Grades Comes From
Teachers are more likely to be pressured by parents than school leaders.
4 min read
Conceptul image in blues of a teacher handing out graded papers.
Liz Yap/Education Week and E+
Assessment What the Research Says AI and Other Tech Can Power Better Testing. Can Teachers Use the New Tools?
Assessment experts call for better educator supports for technology use.
3 min read
Illustration of papers and magnifying glass
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Assessment What the Research Says What Teachers Should Know About Integrating Formative Assessment With Instruction
Teachers need to understand how tests fit into their larger instructional practice, experts say.
3 min read
Students with raised hands.
E+ / Getty
Assessment AI May Be Coming for Standardized Testing
An international test may offer clues on how AI can help create better assessments.
4 min read
online test checklist 1610418898 brightspot
champpixs/iStock/Getty