Raising standards through classroom assessment

Classroom Assessment:
Minute-by-minute and
Dylan Wiliam
Overview of presentation
Why raising achievement is important
Why investing in teachers is the answer
Why formative assessment should be the focus
Why teacher learning communities should be the mechanism
How we can put this into practice
Raising achievement matters
For individuals
Increased lifetime salary
Improved health
Longer life
For society
Lower criminal justice costs
Lower health-care costs
Increased economic growth
Where’s the solution?
 Smaller high schools
 K-8 schools
 Curriculum reform
 Textbook replacement
 Charter schools
 Vouchers
 Computers
 Interactive white-boards
School effectiveness
Three generations of school effectiveness research
Raw results approaches
Different schools get different results
Conclusion: Schools make a difference
Demographic-based approaches
Demographic factors account for most of the variation
Conclusion: Schools don’t make a difference
Value-added approaches
School-level differences in value-added are relatively small
Classroom-level differences in value-added are large
Conclusion: An effective school is a school full of effective classrooms
How important is teacher quality?
How much progress will an average student make when taught by a
great teacher (i.e., the best teacher in a group of 50)?
A. An extra month per year
B. An extra two months per year
C. An extra three months per year
D. An extra four months per year
E. An extra six months per year
Teacher quality
A labor force issue with 2 solutions
Replace existing teachers with better ones?
No evidence that more pay brings in better teachers
No evidence that there are better teachers out there deterred by
burdensome certification requirements
Improve the effectiveness of existing teachers
The “love the one you’re with” strategy
It can be done
We know how to do it, but at scale? Quickly? Sustainably?
The ‘dark matter’ of teacher quality
Teachers make a difference
But what makes the difference in teachers?
Advanced content matter knowledge
Pedagogical content knowledge
Further professional qualifications (NBPTS)
Total “explained” difference
Cost/effect comparisons
Extra months of
learning per year
Class-size reduction (by 30%)
Increase teacher content
knowledge from weak to strong
6 to 9
Formative assessment/
Assessment for learning
The research evidence
Several major reviews of the research
Natriello (1987)
Crooks (1988)
Kluger & DeNisi (1996)
Black & Wiliam (1998)
Nyquist (2003)
All find consistent, substantial effects
Types of formative assessment
 Span: across units, terms
 Length: four weeks to one year
 Impact: Student monitoring; curriculum alignment
 Span: within and between teaching units
 Length: one to four weeks
 Impact: Improved, student-involved, assessment; teacher cognition about learning
 Span: within and between lessons
 Length:
 day-by-day: 24 to 48 hours
 minute-by-minute: 5 seconds to 2 hours
 Impact: classroom practice; student engagement
Unpacking formative assessment
Key processes
Establishing where the learners are in their learning
Establishing where they are going
Working out how to get there
Aspects of formative assessment
Where the learner
is going
Where the learner is
Engineering effective
Clarify and share discussions, tasks and
activities that elicit
learning intentions
evidence of learning
How to get there
Providing feedback
that moves learners
Understand and
share learning
Activating students as learning
resources for one another
learning intentions
Activating students as owners
of their own learning
Sharing learning intentions
Explaining learning intentions at start of lesson/unit
Learning intentions
Success criteria
Intentions/criteria in students’ language
Posters of key words to talk about learning
eg describe, explain, evaluate
Planning/writing frames
Annotated examples of different standards to ‘flesh out’ assessment
rubrics (e.g. lab reports)
Opportunities for students to design their own tests
Eliciting evidence of achievement
Key idea: questioning should
 cause thinking
 provide data that informs teaching
Improving teacher questioning
 generating questions with colleagues
 closed vs. open or low-order vs. high-order
 appropriate wait-time
Getting away from I-R-E
 basketball rather than serial table-tennis
 ‘No hands up’ (except to ask a question)
 ‘Hot Seat’ questioning
All-student response systems
 ABCD cards, Mini white-boards, Exit passes
Feedback that moves learning on
Key idea: feedback should
 cause thinking
 provide guidance on how to improve
Comment-only grading
Focused grading
Explicit reference to mark-schemes and scoring guides
Suggestions on how to improve
 ‘Strategy cards’ ideas for improvement
 Not giving complete solutions
Re-timing assessment
 (eg two-thirds-of-the-way-through-a-unit test)
Students as owners of their learning
Students assessing their own work
with rubrics
with exemplars
Self-assessment of understanding
Traffic lights
Red/green discs
Colored cups
Students as instructional resources
Students assessing their peers’ work
“pre-flight check-list”
“two stars and a wish”
Training students to pose questions/identifying group weaknesses
End-of-lesson students’ review
…and one big idea
Use evidence about learning to adapt teaching and learning to meet
student needs
Keeping Learning on Track (KLT)
A pilot guides a plane or boat toward its destination by taking constant
readings and making careful adjustments in response to wind, currents,
weather, etc.
A KLT teacher does the same:
Plans a carefully chosen route ahead of time (in essence building the track)
Takes readings along the way
Changes course as conditions dictate
Putting it into practice
Implementing FA/AfL requires
changing teacher habits
Teachers “know” most of this already
So the problem is not a lack of knowledge
It’s a lack of understanding what it means to do FA/AfL
That’s why telling teachers what to do doesn’t work
Experience alone is not enough—if it were, then the most experienced
teachers would be the best teachers—we know that’s not true
(Hanushek, 2005; Day, 2006)
People need to reflect on their experiences in systematic ways that build
their accessible knowledge base, learn from mistakes, etc. (Bransford,
Brown & Cocking, 1999)
A model for teacher learning
Content, then process
Content (what we want teachers to change)
Ideas (strategies and techniques)
Process (how to go about change)
Small steps
Strategies and techniques
Distinction between strategies and techniques
Strategies define the territory of AfL (no brainers)
Teachers are responsible for choice of techniques
Allows for customization/ caters for local context
Creates ownership
Shares responsibility
Key requirements of techniques
embodiment of deep cognitive/affective principles
Teacher learning takes time
To put new knowledge to work, to make it meaningful and accessible
when you need it, requires practice.
A teacher doesn’t come at this as a blank slate.
Not only do teachers have their current habits and ways of teaching—
they’ve lived inside the old culture of classrooms all their lives: every
teacher started out as a student!
New knowledge doesn’t just have to get learned and practiced, it has to go
up against long-established, familiar, comfortable ways of doing things that
may not be as effective, but fit within everyone’s expectations of how a
classroom should work.
It takes time and practice to undo old habits and become graceful at
new ones. Thus…
 Professional development must be sustained over time
That’s what teacher learning
communities (TLCs) are for:
TLCs contradict teacher isolation
TLCs reprofessionalize teaching by valuing teacher expertise
TLCs deprivatize teaching so that teachers’ strengths and struggles
become known
TLCs offer a steady source of support for struggling teachers
They grow expertise by providing a regular space, time, and structure
for that kind of systematic reflecting on practice
They facilitate sharing of untapped expertise residing in individual
They build the collective knowledge base in a school
How to set up a TLC
Plan that the TLC will run for two years
Identify 8 to 10 interested colleagues
Should have similar assignments (e.g. early years, math/sci)
Secure institutional support for:
Monthly meetings (75 to 120 minutes each, inside or outside school time)
Time between meetings (2 hrs per month in school time)
Collaborative planning
Peer observation
Any necessary waivers from school policies
A ‘signature pedagogy’ for teacher learning?
Every monthly TLC meeting should follows the same structure and
sequence of activities
Activity 1: Introduction & Housekeeping (5-10 minutes)
Activity 2: How’s It Going (35-50 minutes)
Activity 3: New Learning about AfL (20-45 minutes)
Activity 4: Personal Action Planning (10 minutes)
Activity 5: Summary of Learning (5 minutes)
The TLC leader’s role
To ensure the TLC meets regularly
To ensure all needed materials are at meetings
To ensure that each meeting is focused on AfL
To create and maintain a productive and non-judgmental tone during
To ensure that every participant shares with regard to their implementation
of AfL
To encourage teachers to provide their colleagues with constructive and
thoughtful feedback
To encourage teachers to think about and discuss the implementation of
new AfL learning and skills
To ensure that every teacher has an action plan to guide their next steps
But not to be the AfL “expert”
Peer observation
Run to the agenda of the observed, not the observer
Observed teacher specifies focus of observation
Observe teacher specifies what counts as evidence
e.g., teacher wants to increase wait-time
provides observer with a stop-watch to log wait-times
Current pilots in:
Cleveland Municipal School District, OH
Austin Independent School District, TX
Chico Unified School District, CA
Mathematics and Science Partnership of Greater Philadelphia, PA/NJ
St. Mary’s County Public Schools, MD
State-wide pilot in 10 schools in Vermont
Further details: www.ets.org/klt
Raising achievement is important
Raising achievement requires improving teacher quality
Improving teacher quality requires teacher professional development
To be effective, teacher professional development must address
What teachers do in the classroom
How teachers change what they do in the classroom
A point of (uniquely?) high leverage
A “Trojan Horse” into wider issues of pedagogy, psychology, and curriculum

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