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Since the Ann Arbor, Michigan, school district created its K-2 assessment process and matching report form, both students and teachers have shown improved performance.
Three years ago, the Ann Arbor Public School district began developing an alternative way to measure student learning and to report the results to parents. The process took time and effort, but it appears to be paying off. Early data revealed that kindergartners' performance, based on the school district's expectations for children their age, has risen over the past year.
These promising results have led us to three convictions: First, a performance assessment program and meaningful parent report form, like twins, must be conceived together; second, teachers must take a lead role in their ongoing development (Stiggins and Conklin 1992); and third, by systematically monitoring students' progress, teachers can more effectively meet the children's individual needs.
Toward a Better Learning Yardstick
The impetus to design a new way to evaluate student performance came about six years ago when a group of 1st grade teachers petitioned the administration to stop administering the California Achievement Test. They viewed this standardized test--and indeed any achievement test--as academically inappropriate for 1st graders. Clifford Weber, our school system's executive director of instruction and research, agreed. He had already been searching for better ways to measure learning, and found Richard Stiggins' research (1988) on performance assessment convincing.
We began with a pilot project limited to mathematics learning goals. We asked a group of kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade teachers, to develop, under the direction of the district's math coordinator, limited performance outcomes for each grade, together with tasks and criteria to gauge students' progress toward these goals. We then trained a core group of teachers to …