Many academic professionals are of the mindset that developing an effective lesson plan that is aligned with established state learning standards represents the most difficult element of teaching. There are many others, however, that find the element that is most difficult to be the developing of effective measurements that can be used to assess student knowledge of the material being covered in the unit. The establishment of methods to measure and assess taught material can be a very sesquipedalian process that is designed to ensure that the knowledge the students gain is directly in-line with the academic learning standards of the respective state. To fully appreciate the complexity of the process of establishing effective methods to measure and assess teaching, the following sections will provide a detailed examination of key elements within the process. First and foremost, this examination will begin with a review of the relevant academic standards that will apply in this case, which will be those in the state of Georgia. Next, a set of learning targets will be established for a unit of instruction that will serve as the basis of this examination. For the purposes of this example, the unit of instruction will be geared toward the subject of social studies for sixth grade students. This will be followed by an outline of the various assignments and learning assessments that will be used to build student knowledge during the unit of instruction. Additionally, a number of specific assessments will be emphasized to measure student competence in the established unit learning targets. Finally, this examination will conclude with the establishment of a comprehensive rubric with grading criteria and an item analysis spreadsheet that will illustrate one full assessment that is associated with the established unit of instruction and learning targets. Ultimately, the examination will begin with a review of the academic standards for the state of Georgia, which will be thoroughly outlined in the section that follows.
Georgia Academic Standards
The state of Georgia has developed a highly comprehensive set of academic and learning standards for all Georgia students in compulsory and secondary education. Further, these standards have grown to cover a variety of subjects that are beyond the traditional subject that were regarded as the primary foundation of learning, reading, writing, and arithmetic. In particular, the state of Georgia’s academic learning standards encompass math, science, technology, language arts, social studies, physical education and several others. As stated in the preceding introduction, the unit of instruction that will be used in this work will be within the subject of social studies for sixth grade students. A review of the Georgia State academic standards associated with social studies for sixth graders has revealed the following:
- SS6CG1: Compare and contrast various forms of government.
- SS6CG2: Explain the structures of national governments in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- SS6CG3: Explain the structure of the national government of Canada.
Learning targets, which are often referred to as learning objectives, represent specific abilities that students must gain mastery over to demonstrate successful achievement of the academic standards. As a result, the learning targets must be aligned directly with the academic standards that the curriculum has been designed to teach. Accordingly, the following provides a listing of the specific learning targets that correspond with the academic standards related to the unit of instruction.
- Standard SS6CG1
a. Describe the ways government systems distribute power: unitary, confederation, and federal.
b. Explain how governments determine citizen participation: autocratic, oligarchic, and democratic.
c. Describe the two predominant forms of democratic governments: parliamentary and presidential.
- Standard SS6CG2
a. Compare the federal-republican systems of the Federative Republic of Brazil (Brazil) and the United Mexican States (Mexico) to the dictatorship of the Republic of Cuba (Cuba), distinguishing the form of leadership and the role of the citizen in terms of voting and personal freedoms.
- Standard SS6CG3
a. Describe the structure of the Canadian government as a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy, and a federation, distinguishing the role of the citizen in terms of voting and personal freedoms.
Assignments and Assessments
Based upon the academic standards and learning targets that have been outlined in the preceding sections, a number of assignments and assessments will be identified for the specific purpose of facilitate the learning process, as well as assessing knowledge retention from lessons taught. The following table outlines the various assignments and assessments that will be used to facilitate the learning and assessment processes for each of the learning targets that have been established for this unit of instruction.
Assessments to Measure Learning Targets
The table above provides a detailed outline of the assignments and assessments that will be used within the unit of instruction to facilitate mastery of the subject material. The third column lists all of the assessments that will be utilized to test learning, which are listed individually by learning target. Establishing an assessment mechanism to measure learning through the use of tools such as exams or quizzes is only half of the process. This is because effective assessment also requires the use of a variety of different measurement types, which allows for a broader and more accurate assessment. To this end, the different measurement types that will be used to measure learning within this unit of instruction include objective simple or multiple choice questions, interpretive exercises, essay questions, performance-based items. It is important to note that each of these measurement types have been incorporated into the assessments that will be utilized to test mastery of learning targets. Simple and multiple choice questions are a particularly effective assessment tool to measure subject matter mastery, and as such, is an integral part of the assessment process in this example. Essay questions are also valuable because they require students to provide additional insights that is more effective at reflecting the student’s level of comprehension and understanding of the material, as well as their ability to apply this knowledge to practical and real world exercise. As such, these too are an important part of the assessment and measurement structure for this unit of instruction.
Rubric and Grading Criteria
The assessments that have been chosen to be included in this unit of instruction are of differing types, and as a result, there will be different grading criteria for some of the assessments that do not already have clearly established measures. Specifically, simple and multiple choice questions have a very finite grading criteria. Essentially, grading involves very objective assessment through grading each question as either correct or incorrect and then determining the percentage of correct responses out of the total. Practical exercise and essay questions are generally graded subjectively as students are required to provide more extensive and thorough answers. As a result, essay questions require a more comprehensive grading criteria established. Based upon the assessments that have been established for this unit of instruction, the primary assessment that will need an outlined grading criteria is the end of unit test.
Georgia Department of Education. (2014, January 11). GPS by grade level, K-8. Retrieved from Georgia Department of Labor Web site: https://www.georgiastandards.org/standards/Pages/BrowseStandards/GPS_by_Grade_Level_K-8.aspx
Miller, A. D., Linn, R. L., & Gronlund, N. E. (2012). Measurement and assessment in teaching (11th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.