Background Information about Standards and Targets:
The first step in creating assessments is to identify content standards that specify the fundamental concepts and principles you expect all of your students to know and understand. States, districts, and national organizations often provide standards to help teachers focus their curriculum. When you have determined which topics you wish to cover with your students, you can refer to these standards to align your curriculum with national and state visions of science education.
On the PALM Web site all of the performance assessment tasks are
linked to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
These are mathematics education standards for grades PreK-12 developed
to provide curricular and assessment guidance to math teaching practitioners
throughout the country. The standards are both widely accepted and
widely used, and therefore provide a good framework for the Web
site. For grades preK-5, 6-8, and 9-12 the NCTM include the following
content standard categories: Numbers and Operations,
Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis and Probability, Problem
Solving, Reasoning and Proof, Communication, Connections, Representation.
Standards identify broad expectations for students. They are not
task-specific and thus do not prescribe a curriculum. However, once
standards are selected they can be used to frame specific curricular
objectives or targets. Targets will ground all of the decisions
concerning the assessment you will use--from the type of assessment,
to the task design, to the scoring of the exercise. We suggest that
you use the NCTM as an example of the types of visions of academic
success to shape your targets. However, your targets may be based
on a different set of standards, such as state or district standards.
The standards you select will influence the type of wording of the
targets you develop.
When creating your targets, keep in mind that the broader the target, the more complex and broad the scope of the assessment tasks will need to be. Rick Stiggins, in his book Student-Centered Classroom Assessments, suggests that some of the benefits of defining good targets include:
- Limiting teacher accountability: Others should have a clear understanding of your instructional responsibilities.
- Limiting student accountability: Students are more likely to succeed when you define what your expectations are and help them internalize these expectations.
- More manageable teacher workload: Clarifying what you want to assess helps you be more selective in choosing the most appropriate assessment questions without over-testing.
Stiggins also identified several types of important achievement targets that teachers aim to assess in the classroom. These include knowledge, reasoning, skill, and product targets as defined below:
- Knowledge targets focus on the attainment of declarative knowledge (i.e., concepts, generalizations, facts about individuals and events) and procedural knowledge (i.e., steps for solving problems).
- Product targets focus on the development of quality products such as papers, lab reports or presentations.
- Reasoning targets focus on problem-solving, reasoning, and analyzing arguments.
- Skill targets focus on the attainment of certain behaviors or skills (e.g., using lab equipment properly).
Finally, to build strong targets, instructional goals and standards
must not be crafted in isolation. Colleagues, parents and other
members of the community, national curriculum groups, state curriculum
frameworks, and frameworks for international, national and state
assessments should help you identify and set limits on the targets
you create for your students. These resources can help you identify
appropriate targets for your students. For other sources of information
about standards and targets see the Additional Standards and Targets