The Assessment Diaries: Teacher Perspectives on How New Assessments Can Fuel Learning

Assessment Diaries - Teachers on Field Tests

Editor’s Note: Teaching Channel has partnered with Student Achievement Partners on a blog series about the new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. They have assembled a group of teachers who have either tried aligned sample assessment questions with their students or have participated in field testing of the new consortia (PARCC/Smarter Balanced) assessments this spring. Throughout the month of April, these teachers will share their thoughts, concerns, and optimism for what new assessments can mean for their classrooms. We hope this series will help ease fears and give teachers a platform for honest discussion.

Assessment season can bring on sweaty palms and racing hearts… for teachers. This year, there is an additional level of uncertainty as the Common Core State Standards are rolled out across the county and new assessments are being field tested or administered. This may feel like the moment of truth (how will my students do? how will that reflect on my teaching?), but it is just the beginning of the process of making sure our students are on track for success in college and beyond.

As teachers across the country are partaking in opportunities to understand, prepare for, and try new assessments in their classrooms, many are excited by what they’re seeing and how their students are responding. Like you, some have tried Common Core-aligned sample mini assessments and exercises from in their classrooms, as well as sample items and tasks released by both assessment consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Others are shifting their formative assessment practices in new and innovative ways to see how their students are doing with these new expectations. We’ve gathered a group of teachers from around the country to share honest reflections on how it’s going.


Tricia Ebner teaches gifted and talented middle school students in an ELA-based program in Hartville, Ohio. She is a member of Ohio’s PARCC Educator Leader Cadre, National Board Certified in early adolescent ELA, and a Student Achievement Partners Core Advocate.

Christina Suarez has been teaching high school social studies in Vermont for 11 years. As an advocate for the Common Core, she is also working with the Vermont Agency of Education’s Professional Learning Network to assist local development and implementation of performance-based assessments.

Cay Freeman is a 28-year veteran teacher in Windsor, Connecticut, who teaches intervention classes to 6th-8th grade students who struggle with math. In 2010, she was the district Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Em LeBlanc is a third grade math, science, and social studies teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She works with teachers throughout her district and state while being an advisor for the Louisiana Teacher Leaders, conducting professional development such as being a State Trainer for Eureka Math, and holding other leadership roles in education. Em has certifications in elementary education, special education, and educational leadership.


Over the next few weeks, this “on the ground” teacher team will address new assessment topics. They’ll talk about their unique classroom experiences — from preparing to use new technology to reflecting on their practice. We invite you to join the conversation, engage in discussion, and with each blog we’ll ask you to respond to a specific question. Our goal is to start an honest conversation among teachers about these shifts in instruction and assessment. We hope you’ll share your own successes, struggles, and questions with us. Come back throughout April for a new entry each Thursday.

We’re kicking off the “Assessment Diaries” series with a video of teachers reflecting on how aligned assessments can support the hard work happening in their classrooms.

After you’ve watched, use the comment section below to tell us what you think about this statement:

A promise of the new Common Core-aligned assessments is the elimination of the dreaded “test prep” time. High quality, aligned assessments should reflect and reward instruction aligned to the learning goals of the Standards. No more surprises. Do you agree?

We’re really looking forward to this series and hope you are too. See you next week!


Teacher Perspectives on How New Assessments Can Fuel Learning

Why New Assessments?

Incorporate Technology Into Your Assessment Practices

Aligning Classwork to the New Assessments

Feedback From Students

Student Achievement PartnersStudent Achievement Partners (SAP) was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. SAP is a non-profit organization working to support teachers across the country in their efforts to realize the promise of the Common Core State Standards for all students. SAP has one purpose: to help all students and teachers see their hard work lead to greater student achievement.


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