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Learning Progressions CCSSO 2008

Apr 05, 2018

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    LEARNING PROGRESSIONS:

    SUPPORTING INSTRUCTION AND FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT

    MARGARET HERITAGE

    NATIONAL CENTER FORRESEARCH ONEVALUATION,STANDARDS, AND STUDENTTESTING (CRESST)

    GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND INFORMATION STUDIES

    UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA,LOS ANGELES

    Paper prepared for the Formative Assessment for Teachers and Students (FAST)State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) of the

    Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

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    THE!COUNCIL!OF!CHIEF!STATE!SCHOOL!OFFICERS!

    !

    The!Council!of!Chief!State!School!Officers! (CCSSO)! is!a!nonpartisan,!nationwide,!nonprofit!organization!of!public!officials!who!head!departments! of! elementary! and! secondary! education! in! the! states,! the!District!of!Columbia,! the!Department!of!Defense! Education! Activity,! and! five! U.S.! extra"state!jurisdictions.! CCSSO! provides! leadership,! advocacy,! and! technical!assistance!on!major!educational!issues.!The!Council!seeks!member!consensus!on!major!educational!issues!and!expresses!their!views!to!civic!and!professional!organizations,!federal!agencies,!Congress,!and!the!public.!

    !

    Formative!Assessment!for!Students!and!Teachers!State!Collaborative!on!Assessment!and!Student!Standards!

    !

    The Councils State!Collaborative!on!Assessment!and!Student!Standards!(SCASS)!strives!to!provide!leadership,!advocacy!and!service! in! creating!and!supporting!effective! collaborative!partnerships! through! the! collective!experience!and!knowledge!of!state!education!personnel!to!develop!and!implement!high!standards!and!valid!assessment!systems!that!maximize!educational!achievement!for!all!children.!

    !

    !

    COUNCIL!OF!CHIEF!STATE!SCHOOL!OFFICERS!

    !

    Rick!Melmer!(South!Dakota),!President!!

    Elizabeth!Burmaster!(Wisconsin),!Past!President!

    T.!Kenneth!James!(Arkansas),!President"Elect!

    !

    Gene!Wilhoit,!Executive!Director!

    !

    !

    !

    John!Tanner,!Director!Center!for!Innovative!Measures!

    Duncan!MacQuarrie

    !and

    !Douglas

    !Rindone,

    !Co

    "Coordinators,

    !FAST

    !SCASS

    !

    !

    !

    !

    Council!of!Chief!State!School!Officers!

    One!Massachusetts!Avenue,!NW,!Suite!700!

    Washington,!DC!20001"1431!

    Phone!(202)!336"7000!

    Fax!(202)!408"8072!

    www.ccsso.org!

    !

    !

    !

    !

    Copyright!!2008!by!the!Council!of!Chief!State!School!Officers,!Washington,!DC!

    All!rights!reserved.

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    LEARNING PROGRESSIONS:SUPPORTING INSTRUCTION ANDFORMATIVE ASSESSMENT MARGARET HERITAGE

    I.

    INTRODUCTION

    By its very nature, learning involves progression. Toassist in its emergence, teachers need to understand the

    pathways along which students are expected to progress.These pathways or progressions ground both instructionand assessment. Yet, despite a plethora of standards andcurricula, many teachers are unclear about how learning

    progresses in specific domains. This is an undesirablesituation for teaching and learning, and one that

    particularly affects teachers ability to engage informative assessment.

    The purpose of formative assessment is to providefeedback to teachers and students during the course oflearning about the gap between students current anddesired performance so that action can be taken to closethe gap. To do this effectively, teachers need to have inmind a continuum of how learning develops in any

    particular knowledge domain so that they are able tolocate students current learning status and decide on

    pedagogical action to move students learning forward.Learning progressions that clearly articulate a progressionof learning in a domain can provide the big picture ofwhat is to be learned, support instructional planning, andact as a touchstone for formative assessment.

    There is no shortage of standards or curricula ineducation today. However, as the Committee on ScienceLearning K-8 (2007) notes, "many standards and curriculacontain too many disconnected topics that are given equal

    priority. The way many standards and curricula areconceived limits their utility for planning instruction andassessing learning. Too little attention is given to howstudents' understanding of a topic can be supported fromgrade to grade" (p. 231). Although the authors arereferring specifically to science, this charge can beleveled equally at other domains.

    Even though meeting standards is the ultimate goal ofinstruction, most state standards do not provide a clear

    progression for understanding where students are relativeto desired goals. In fact, many state standards do notnecessarily even provide a clear picture of what learningis expected. In the main, they consist of propositionalknowledge for different ages, without providingoperational definitions of understanding (Smith et al.,2006). While most existing standards describe whatstudents should learn, by a certain grade level they donot describe how students learn in ways that aremaximally useful for curriculum and instruction (NRC,2001:256). It is fair to say that if the standards do not

    present clear descriptions of how students learningprogresses in a domain, then they are unlikely to be usefulfor formative assessment. Standards are insufficientlyclear about how learning develops for teachers to be ableto map formative assessment opportunities to them. Thismeans that teachers are not able determine where studentlearning lies on a continuum, and know what to do toclose the gap between current learning and desired goals.Explicit learning progressions can provide the clarity thatteachers need. By describing a pathway of learning theycan assist teachers to plan instruction. Formativeassessment can be tied to learning goals and the evidenceelicited can determine students understanding and skill ata given point. When teachers understand the continuum oflearning in a domain and have information about currentstatus relative to learning goals (rather than to the activitythey have designed to help students meet the goal), theyare better able to make decisions about what the nextsteps in learning should be.

    There are a number of reasons why many curriculaare also problematic for planning learning and formativeassessment. Curricula are often organized around scopeand sequence charts that specify procedural objectives to

    be mastered at each grade. Usually, these are discreteobjectives and not connected to each other in a largernetwork of organizing concepts (NRC, 2000). In thiscontext, rather than providing details about the status ofthe students learning relative to the desired learning goal,(the hallmark of formative assessment) that can inform

    pedagogical actions, assessment related to the objectiveswill be of how well the student completed the task.Textbooks suffer from the same problems. Many mathand science textbooks, for example, cover a wide array oftopics, (which are not always organized in a logicallyconnected way see, for instance, Stern & Roseman,2004), often leading to superficial coverage of ideaswithout building connections between and among them.

    This situation contrasts with how curricula are organizedin countries that outperform the U.S. on internationalassessments and leads to charges that students in the U.S.experience a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inchdeep (Schmidt, McKnight & Raizen, 1997:1)

    Curricula organized into units of instruction aroundparticular topics present better, but less than optimal,opportunities for instructional planning and formativeassessment. When units are described in terms of a coreconcept or big idea and supporting sub-conceptsteachers are more easily able to map formative assessment

    THE COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS THE FASTSCASS!FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT FORSTUDENTS AND TEACHERS

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    LEARNING PROGRESSIONS:SUPPORTING INSTRUCTION ANDFORMATIVE ASSESSMENT MARGARET HERITAGE

    onto these learning goals. However, this approach toorganizing content has its own set of drawbacks. Units areoften not connected to each other in a coherent vision forthe progressive acquisition of concepts and skills, andtherefore limit teachers ability to see how learningdevelops in a specific domain. Teachers are unable tolocate students' learning status on a continuum ofdevelopment and are confined to seeing learning as a

    chunk of content that has to be mastered in a giventimeframe. By contrast, learning progressions describe atrajectory of learning in a domain that spans a muchlonger period and provides multi-year image ofsuccessively more sophisticated performance levels.

    This progression of learning allows teachers toposition their students' learning, not only in relation totheir current class(es) and the objectives for that cohort,

    but also in relation to prior and subsequent classes.Consequently, teachers are able to view current learningagainst a bigger picture of development. In terms ofinstruction, they are able to make connections between

    prior and successive learning. Also, information fromformative assessment can be used to pinpoint where

    students learning lies on the continuum. Sometimes thiswill mean that teachers have to move backwards along thecontinuum, for example, if key building blocks aremissing. Similarly, they might move learning furtherforward if some students are outpacing their peers. In bothcases, the continuum allows them to make an appropriatematch between instruction and the learners' needs.

    In this paper, I first present definitions and attributesof learning pro

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