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Capacity-Driven Schools: Positive Assessment Climates

Assessment data used to guide and inform, not judge and punish, become a powerful resource in the learning process of schools working to strengthen literacy. Based on national surveys in 2013 and 2015 and a large-scale qualitative study in 2014, this report brief, Capacity-Driven Schools: Positive Assessment Climates, examines the role of standards-linked assessments in literacy improvement and offers recommendations about how schools and districts can create a positive climate around the role of assessments in the learning process. The findings establish strong connections among three factors:


  1. Capacity-building approaches to change, such as investing in teacher learning, promoting powerful collaborative practices, and building teacher ownership.
  2. Strong standards implementation.
  3. A positive, constructive assessment climate.

2015 NCLE Report Homepage

What We Found...

Schools making the most progress with standards implementation have notably more positive assessment climates. This report unpacks what schools with a positive assessment climate are doing differently that allows teachers to approach new assessments with confidence, focusing on the following four elements of standards implementation:

Recommendations: Building a Climate of Assessment for Learning

To ensure that assessments linked to state standards reinforce rather than distort effective literacy teaching and learning, schools and districts should consider the following steps:

Recommendation #1: Ensure that teachers have adequate opportunities to discuss and unpack new literacy standards and have access to aligned materials, including a wide range of authentic texts. To create an implementation strategy that gives teachers the tools they need, involve teachers in the planning process.
Relevant Resource: Support for Designing and Innovating

Recommendation #2:
Provide and protect time for professional collaboration, while ensuring that the time is used effectively on powerful tasks linked directly to student learning.
Relevant Resource: Time to Learn and Plan Together

Putting Powerful Collaborative Tasks Into Action: Using Evidence to Guide Teaching and Learning

Previous NCLE research identified “powerful collaborative tasks”—activities during collaborative work time that have the biggest payoff in classroom change. Ideally, such tasks are connected in an inquiry cycle, in which teachers talk about standards expectations, co-create lessons to help students meet those standards, and then collaboratively analyze student work products relative to the standard.














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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts