Part II: Five Elements of Assessment Design

In the introductory module, we introduced the concept of five elements of assessment design alignment, rigor, precision, bias and scoring, and suggested that if the assessments you write or find elsewhere address these five elements effectively, those assessments stand a great chance of having an appropriate level of validity and reliability for use in your classroom. In this and the next four modules, you will learn how to recognize the effective use of these five elements and be well on your way to writing or selecting well-designed assessments for your students.

This content is part of the Assessment Design Toolkit spotlight.

4. Alignment

Introduction
The focus of this module is the first element of assessment design—alignment.

By the end of this module, you should be able to define alignment for the purpose of the modules and explain why it is important. You should also be able to explain how to “unpack” a standard to understand its content and use the assessment blueprint to document the skills embedded within it.

 

Supplemental Materials:

 

Conclusion
Now that you have a good understanding of one element of assessment design—alignment—let’s move on to the second of the five elements: rigor.

 


5. Rigor

Introduction
Rigor. That’s what you bring to your instruction every day. You make sure that your students work hard and think hard each and every lesson. You also want to bring rigor to your assessments, which is why rigor is an element of assessment design. Rigor is the focus of this module.

This module has several goals. By the end of this module, you should be able to (1) define what rigor means for the purpose of these modules; (2) use the verbs in standards and other tools that you have available to you to design assessment items that match the cognitive complexity of the relevant standards; (3) explain why assessments with an appropriate level of rigor also measure for a range of student thinking and understanding; and (4) use the assessment blueprint to document the level of rigor of each skill you are measuring in assessments you write or select. The level of rigor of this module is high!

To understand the key concepts in this module, you will need to reference two of the supplemental materials: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Chart. You can click on the links below to access them.

 

Supplemental Materials:

 

The Rigor video and supplemental materials use Bloom’s Taxonomy as the primary tool to determine rigor level. For those who prefer to use Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) as a measure of rigor, the video and accompanying supplemental materials linked under the “Alternative Rigor module” header below provide an alternative version of the Rigor module that uses Webb’s DOK levels.

 

Alternative Rigor module: Webb’s DOK Levels

 

Conclusion
Now that you have a good understanding of two elements of assessment design—alignment and rigor—let’s move on to the third of the five elements: precision.

 


6. Precision

Introduction
You’ve now learned about alignment and rigor, the first two of five elements of assessment design, and you are well on your way toward writing or selecting well-designed assessments for your students.

The focus of this module is the third element of assessment design—precision.

By the end of this module, you should be able to describe what precision means for the purpose of these modules and make an imprecise item more precise. The video in this module is shorter than many other modules. We do, however, provide additional examples of how to design precise selected- and constructed-response items in Part III of this Toolkit.

 

Supplemental Materials:

 

Conclusion
You have completed modules on three of five assessment design elements. Let’s move on to the fourth element—bias.

 


7. Bias

Introduction
As you know, teaching is hard work. Designing assessments that measure what you want them to measure is an acquired skill. There is a knowledge base for great assessment development, and your acquiring that knowledge and putting it into practice will help you draw accurate conclusions about your students’ learning. Knowing and putting into practice five elements of assessment design will go a long way toward meeting this goal.

You have been working your way through a series of modules to develop the knowledge you need to design great assessments. You’ve already learned about three of the elements—alignment, rigor and precision. The focus of this module is the fourth element of assessment design—bias.

By the end of this module, you should be able to describe what bias means for the purpose of these modules and detect potential bias in assessment items.

 

Supplemental Materials:

 

Conclusion
You have completed this module on bias, which all assessment designers should avoid when they write or select assessments. In the next module, we take up the fifth element of assessment design—scoring.

 


8. Scoring

Introduction
Grading papers and quizzes, assigning grades and scores to projects and performance tasks. Teachers do these things every single day. And so the fifth component of assessment design—scoring—will likely be the most familiar to you. This module, we hope, will help make you an even more effective scorer of your students’ work and demonstrate for you how the more effective your scoring practices are, the more likely your assessment results will be reliable.

By the end of this module, you should be able to define what scoring means for the purpose of these modules and explain how and why you should use well-designed tools, such as answer keys, scoring guides and rubrics, to score many assessments. You should also be able to explain what distinguishes one tool from another.

 

Supplemental Materials:

 

Conclusion
We’ve finished our discussions of five elements of assessment design, including scoring. If you address these five elements as you design assessments for your students, you should feel confident that they measure what you want them to measure and that the results are—to use those terms we discussed in the first module—valid and reliable. Now let’s move on to discuss the types of items you write when you design your own assessments.

Resources and Examples of Rubrics 

Mastering how to write a well-designed rubric is beyond the scope of this module. We recommend the following resources and examples of well-designed rubrics to help you continue your learning about rubrics.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers Performance Level Descriptors: Mathematics
These rubric describe four levels of student performance for all math Common Core standards grades 3–12.

Kansas State Department of Education. "Assessment Literacy Project."
This resource includes a video and supplemental to help educators learn about the different types of rubrics, how to recognize a well-designed rubric and how to design and score rubrics.

New York State Education Department. "Teaching Is the Core Assessment Literacy Webinar Series – Part 5: Rubrics and Other Scoring Methods."
This resource includes a video and associated PowerPoint presentation to help educators learn to write and select rubrics that match intended learning outcomes and to check for consistency among scorers.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. "General Scoring Rubrics Mathematics."
This holistic scoring rubric describes levels of student performance on 4-, 3-, 2-, and 1-point mathematics assessments items.

Student Achievement Partners. "Scoring Rubric for Text-Based Writing Prompts."
This rubric describes four levels of student performance for text-based writing prompts. It is primarily for writing about a text, but you could use a subset for another writing task.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers. 2014. "Grades 6–11 Condensed Scoring Rubric for Prose Constructed Response Items Research Simulation Task and Literary Analysis Task."
These rubrics describe five levels of performance for PARCC's research simulation, literary analysis, and narrative tasks.

Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD). "K–12 Rubrics."
This resource includes writing rubrics for every grade level aligned with college- and career-ready standards, including informational, opinion, narrative writing rubrics and research rubrics. (Note that rubrics are the same within K–2, 3–5, and 6–12 with the exception of the standards).