Search This Blog For The Common Core Standard You Want!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Analyzing Assessment Data to Inform Instruction

After every assessment rather interim or summative, it is imperative that teachers do their own analysis of the student results. This will help set the stage for differentiated instruction using the common core lesson plan templates. First you need to gather the details of how students scored on each individual standard. Below is a screenshot of a classroom report that shows a class average percentage of how the class scored by standard. In this report the entire class was not proficient on every standard as you can see from the all red areas.

Alright, so now we know that all of our students were not proficient on every standard assessed on this district-wide assessment, okay, now what? If you have access to the questions that were on the test and the report that shows what answers each student chose, then you are definitely one of the more fortunate teachers. Below is a screenshot of how students answered each question on this particular assessment. This report actually allows you to click on the number underneath each answer choice to see the student names that chose each answer. The correct answer has an asterisk next to it. Having the actually question available allows you to go back and have a discussion with the students that chose various answers to find out why they made the choices they did. Furthermore, you could use this information to group students according to levels of understanding, etc.

The standards assessed on this report were based on ELA state specific grade level standards for Michigan. These standards are closely related to the Informational Text Reading CCSS for grades 11-12. Below is a partial view screenshot from the grade 11-12 informational text common core lesson plan template.

The next step would be to begin utilizing your classroom materials to develop lessons that will help improve student skills on these standards and then plug the lesson descriptions into the template. Our next blog post will show you how we aligned our Stars Educational Consortium Speechmasters Program to the Common Core without spending a dime and using our own common core templates!

*Please note that these templates are also available for ELA grades K-5 and 6-8 on

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Common Core Progress Monitoring

In the 2013-2014 school year, all schools will be required to have their students take the mandated common core end-of-year assessments. Although the interim assessments offered by the two consortia (PARCC and SBAC) will be optional, many districts will choose to administer them due to the fact that the only true way to ensure students will be successful on the common core end-of-year assessments effective internal progress monitoring and response to intervention. From my experiences working for America's lowest performing school district and later with an assessment development company, I have found that many teachers prefer to do their own progress monitoring rather than have their students, sometimes very poor progress, announced to administration through district or school wide assessment reports. If this is your feeling as well, then the tips shared here and throughout this blog will help you to develop your own internal classroom monitoring system, so that when your school or district is ready to administer an interim assessment, your students are better prepared to do well.

The first step to developing any interim assessment is to know what your students are supposed to know and by when they should know it. The common core standards are end of year goals. Therefore, students are actually not expected to know or have a complete understanding of these standards in full until the end of the school year, which is why the mandatory assessment is not given until the end of the school year. The interim assessments (i.e. benchmarks) should measure students progress towards meeting these common core goals. The necessity to know how far or close students are to meeting the common core goals is the main reason I favor computer adaptive testing. Some school districts have opted to provide funding for the use of effective tools such as Star Reading and Math from Renaissance Learning. I highly recommend Renaissance Learning as it is an endorsed partner of the common core standards and has been involved with the common core movement since it's inception.

There are several progress monitoring assessment tools on the market, however Star is one that I highly recommend due to the fact that it goes beyond just assessment. It also provides a way to help teachers in response to intervention. To learn more about Stars Assessments, funding and other products, please visit their website.

For teachers that don't have the luxury of having a program like Star, there are still ways to provide standard based assessments to your students to help you monitor their progress toward the common core. One way is by utilizing the standard based test generator that comes with most school textbooks. Holt books have what is called Examview and most questions are aligned to individual state standards. Because many school districts are currently or have already aligned and paced their state specific standards to meet the expectations of the common core, utilizing test generators that are aligned to your state specific standards can be a very effective way to monitor student progress at the classroom level.

The common core lesson plan templates we continue to refer back to keep teachers on track while preparing lessons to help their students meet the common core expectations. Your district's curriculum pacing guide should be an excellent reference as to what standards you should be teaching  at any given time.

The next blog post will discuss analyzing your classroom assessment data to help you inform the instructional lessons you will lay out using common core lesson plan templates.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Using Data to Inform Instruction the Smart Way

Publishing companies make millions of dollars every year to develop assessments for schools made from recycled/reused test questions. Are these recycled questions effective enough to give you the results you need to help you inform your instruction? In my opinion, the answer is NO. The reason I say no is because these questions stay the same from year to year and do not adapt to individual student performance levels.

One of the most innovative ideas found in both PARCC and SBAC plans, that I really admire, is the proposal to include some tasks in the assessments that would be administered during the school year, in addition to an end-of-course assessment. The PARCC proposal calls for three interim assessments, given at three-month intervals, that are intended to measure topics closer to when students actually study them and provide feedback to students and teachers during the year. The SBAC plan calls for a single extended project to be administered near the end of the year with optional interim assessments.

These interim assessments as well as mandatory summative assessments will use computer adaptive testing. This type of testing is very helpful in the fact that it increases or decreases in difficulty on the test questions according to the student's answers. The assessments are also standards based and allow more detailed teacher analysis of weak areas. This helps to give teachers a more clear understanding of individual student performance levels. You will notice that the Common Core Lesson Plan Templates have an area for teachers to choose their students actual grade level as well as a separate area to choose the student's current proficiency grade level (pictured below). The lesson plans give teachers the freedom to choose any of the grade level strand specific lesson plans to use and customize for instruction.

In some cases it is understandable that teachers may want to (and need to) administer their own classroom standards based assessment to check for student learning. In my next post, I will share some suggestions on cost-effective ways in which teachers can accomplish this without having to spend an extended amount of time on assessment development.

Friday, October 26, 2012

CCSS Lesson Plans Video

See the templates in action in this 3 minute YouTube video.

About Common Core Lesson Plan Templates

Common Core Lesson Plan Templates published by Stars Educational Consortium (SEC) are universal in use and allow teachers to be creative and develop lessons that help students meet the expectations of the common core. Despite all the hype, Teacher's really don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on curriculum materials just because they have the title "Common Core" on the cover. According to the Common Core Standards Website, "Teachers should continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms." Furthermore, the CCSS website states that it is the responsibility of teachers and administrators to decide how the standards will be met, and speaks nothing in regards to that responsibility being put into the hands of textbook publishing companies.

This blog was created to offer suggestions to teachers and administrators on how to help students that are performing below and above grade level successfully meet the expectations set forth in the common core using the materials you already have. This blog speaks to using [assessment] data to drive instruction as well as using instruction to drive data through the use of the Common Core Lesson Plan Templates developed by SEC.

Common Core Lesson Plan Templates Description:

The templates are on CD and include all common core standards for ELA within drop down menu's that are embedded in each lesson plan. The templates are easy to use and customize for differentiated instruction for the CCSS. The lesson plan templates also include standards for grades 6-12 Literacy in History & Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. The templates were created in Microsoft Word. The benefit of having the standards easily accessible within the drop down menus allows teachers to chose which standards/areas they will focus on, therefore helping teachers to stay on track as they prepare lessons aligned to the common core. Each lesson plan can be customized for differentiated instruction to support students performing below grade level. The templates serve as an excellent support resource to help Teachers make a successful and effective transition to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) using their current classroom materials.